2016 was the year that we stopped ignoring the news and began watching it with a kind of horrified fascination. At first, we thought it was funny. Ridiculous. This couldn’t be serious. It was a goof and everyone was going to end up popping champagne, slapping each other on the back and saying, “Good one!”

Except it wasn’t a joke and after a few weeks, it also wasn’t funny. The news was scary. Unnerving. Disturbing. To keep from total nervous collapse, I started reading articles by Andy Borowitz, the wit of “The New Yorker” magazine. After a while, I found I was following the magazine and reading many — almost all — of the major articles by all the writers. Not to mention loving the cartoons and The New Yorker has always had the best cartoons.


Finally, I ponied up the money and bought a two-year subscription which came with a free New Yorker book bag in which I now keep my frequently used computer and camera accessories (as opposed to the never or almost-never used accessories). No sooner had I set up my account and started receiving both the hard and electronic copies of the magazine than Condé Nast, The New Yorker’s corporate owner, began besieging me with other magazine offers … and renewal offers for The New Yorker.

The renewal offers get more desperate sounding with each passing day, as if my subscription will make or break the entire corporate structure. Give me a break!

I started my career as the assistant subscription manager of Architectural Digest. I wasn’t there long because I got pregnant and the long commute by Long Island Railroad got to be a bit much for me … and I knew my future was not in subscriptions. I was a writer and I was going to find somewhere I could do what I do and get paid for it. But, for the seven or eight months in subscriptions, I learned a lot about the business.

The first rule of subscriptions is that unless the subscriber is known to be deceased and the place he or she lived has been bulldozed, you never cancel a subscription. Why not? Because magazines do not make money from subscriptions. They make money from advertising, Advertising rates — the cost for a full or part page in a publication — is based on the number of subscribers, so you never want to lower that number. You want to show growth. Only growth. It’s self-defeating to cut off subscribers.


Now, with all magazines doubling up as both web and paper, the equation is a little different, but the concept remains: you set your price for advertising based on the number of people who you can “prove” read your publication … and that is done via subscription numbers. Whether the subscriber is via Internet or postal delivery, that is the only solid evidence you have of who reads you. That is why, when you follow a publication on line, after a few hits on the web site, they require you to open an account. Even if it’s free, an account is a subscription. It counts toward making up the numbers which allow the publication to set good rates.

So why all the hysteria to get me to renew? I suppose because revenue is revenue, even if it’s a trickle rather than a raging river.

The problem is that all this badgering is counter-productive. It doesn’t make me want to renew. It makes me resent that they don’t seem to appreciate I did actually pay them when I could have continued to follow them for free on the Internet. Hounding subscribers to renew when they just subscribed is not endearing. They should stop doing it.

I probably will renew … when this subscription is nearly over. But in the meantime, I’d appreciate an end to the spam. It’s annoying.


Categories: Entertainment, Humor, Photography, Publishing

Tags: , , , , , ,

13 replies

  1. A couple years ago, I was getting the big St. Louis paper thrown in my yard every day out of the blue. Other than extracting the NYT crossword puzzle out of the Sunday edition to bide my lunch hour at work, the rest of them merely piled up in my recycling unopened. When the bills came (For some unfamiliar name I later found out is a neighbor 3 houses down) I sent them back unopened as well. That didn’t stop them from throwing a fresh newspaper in my yard for three whole months before they finally realized nobody at this address was going to pay them a dime…

    What really cracked me up (And which is now explained by this post) is that for at least a year after that, they continually sent renewal notices to my home (in the neighbor’s name) begging me to renew my subscription I never asked for in the first place! Most businesses would never want you for a customer again if you refused to pay for services already rendered… but the print business I guess just wants the numbers…


    • They often lose money on subscriptions. That’s how come so many small town papers are free and we won’t take them EVEN for free because then we have a big heap of papers we have to dispose of. But those subscription numbers, those really matter. They aren’t money, but they can turn them INTO money. It’s … MAGIC!


  2. I used to subscribe to The Economist which I loved but it’s expensive when you’re not getting the educator rate so there went that. I also used to subscribe to the Christian Science Monitor because the writing was good and it was not the old same thing, but it’s expensive now. I love The Guardian, but… I’ve subscribed to Outside, but now it, like many other magazines of its type is more about gear than about the outdoors. Time is now 1/3 as long with 1/10 as many words. I loved (and still love) Vanity Fair, but I don’t need it. I subscribed to The New Yorker for years, also. Now I just get whatever free access I’m allowed and wait until the next time I have permission to read for free. I figure it’s fair. I self-publish my books, it’s all on my own hook, I’m a decent writer, they had their chance… 🙂


    • There was a time when we got a lot of magazines. Now, there’s the New Yorker which both of us read. Garry gets the TCM monthly movie guide. He’s a total movie junkie. He used to get the baseball magazine, I forget the name, but it’s been around forever, but they raised the price of subscriptions too high even for Garry.

      I stopped getting news magazines when I lived in Israel and the articles on the middle east were so slanted and so factually wrong. It just pissed me off.

      The New Yorker is my admission that I need a weekly dose of left-wing socialist propaganda. And cartoons.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I must admit to having zero magazine subscriptions. The last one I had was National Geographic, and it was a gift for a relative. It renewed every year in September, but the renewal letters would start arriving in November and keep coming until I paid again, then there would be the 60 day reprieve and it would start up again. Forget it – too much aggravation for the amount of content currently in a magazine.


    • When I subscribed to the New Yorker, it was the first time in more than a decade. Garry likes reading paper, so he gets a couple of things, but I am fine on electronic media … and I mostly read the New York on the computer, except for the articles that don’t appear online. I made an exception for the New Yorker. If they would just stop spamming me to renew before I’m halfway through the subscription …


  4. I have had subscriptions that I did not renew, but kept receiving for a while. Eventually they stop, maybe cause they think I am gone.


  5. The New Yorker is a great magazine but it takes a lot of time to read it and do everything else on the agenda.

    Liked by 1 person

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