I’ve been thinking a lot about the future of magazine publishing. I’m the Editor-in-Chief of a brand that stubbornly features “magazine” in its name, so this should come as no surprise. Although PC Magazine ceased publishing a print version in 2009, thousands of subscribers continue to pay for our Digital Edition. The question is, with an almost infinite amount of free content online, why pay for it?
The PC Magazine Digital Edition is designed for any type of digital display: laptops, tablets, and mobile phones. When PCMag.com publishes an article, it is accompanied by advertisements. That’s how we make money to pay our writers. In the Digital Edition, we have subscribers to help defray our production costs. As a result, we can deliver our content completely ad-free. Considering how targeted ads can get, I think we can all agree that ad-free is a pretty great perk. We also feature exclusive stories, mainly longer reported pieces that might get overlooked online.
We keep improving the Digital Edition, but progress isn’t a straight line. Recently, we updated it with a new responsive design for iOS on phones; iPad and Android versions are coming soon. The migration has been tricky, and I know some of you have had trouble logging in and downloading issues. (For the most part, these problems have been sorted out, but if you are still having trouble, send an email to [email protected].)
This month’s cover story, “Blockchain: The Invisible Technology That’s Changing the World,” is a perfect example of the value of magazine publishing. Blockchain is one of the most important technological innovations of our time, but almost no one understands how it works. Part of the problem is that the big brains who do grok it almost never get the opportunity to write long enough to explain it in detail. If they do, the pieces tend to be incredibly dull.
We’re hoping to avoid both of those traps with this month’s cover story. Rob Marvin has a lot to say about blockchain, and his sources have even more insight. His first draft clocked in at more than 8,000 words and was the best piece of writing I have read in months. Even so, 8,000 words is a bit much, so Managing Editor Carol Mangis went to work, editing, crafting, and yes, cutting the piece down until it was informative and entertaining. [Which I never have to do with Dan’s column.—Ed.]
At this point, we could have posted it on Medium, but we had more to do. Designer Jose Ruiz took the copy, what little art we had, and created the pages that help the reader through the story. Only then did we have a magazine feature worth paying for. Check it out, and let me know if you agree.
Get the lowdown on blockchain, reviews, news, and how-tos in the February issue of the PC Magazine Digital Edition, available now via Apple iTunes.