Despite the fact that I make my living in the digital space, I've been a lifelong, hardcore print magazine fan. In fact, for many years in high school and college I dreamed of a career in the magazine industry. It wasn't until I graduated, and discovered along with the rest of the world that print publishing may not be the future, that I started exploring what, to me, was the digital equivalent of magazines: blogs and social media.
Anyhow, to this day I still receive six print magazine subscriptions—and it's not because I'm too lazy to cancel them. In fact, I look forward to the moment I see one or two of them arrive in my apartment mailbox.
- Reading in print is part of a balanced data diet. So many studies have shown that reading paper compared to screens has unique advantages, from affording deeper reading comprehension to being less physical and mentally taxing. In my personal experience, my eyes are completely exhausted at the end of a long work day of staring at my laptop, and they crave reading something on a piece of paper. That's why I always have a print book or magazine in my bag for my commute. I can actually feel my eyes, and even my brain, relax a little bit when I start to read something in print after 10+ hours of screen-reading.
- Reading print magazines compared to their digital counterparts affords me more serendipity. I can happen upon something random and unexpectedly enlightening or entertaining that I may not have sought out in a search on a magazine's website or by scrolling through their tweets or Instagram posts. The editors decide what's laid out on each physical page, putting them in control of what I consume. And while that's true to a certain extent of digital layouts, too, most publishers' websites are being constantly, subtly tweaked to surface the most searched or clicked content (which makes complete sense). I like that, reading a physical magazine, I may learn something unanticipated about a person or topic I would never have actively sought out, and which may not be something that I would think to search for or that would bubble up to the top of a "Most Popular" list online.
- Reading in print is an awesome tactile experience. As someone who's read 50-100 books every year since age 4, I just love the physical act of reading. I love the smell and the feel. I love book jackets and magazine mastheads. I love the community experience of checking a book out of a library and knowing that one of my borough neighbors read those same pages (and maybe left their mark on them). Flipping physical pages instead of scrolling, tapping, or clicking also makes me a more patient and focused reader. I can more easily dive into a long-form piece in Fast Company in print than I can on fastcompany.com, distracted in the latter case by links, pop-ups, video ads, and other open tabs.
In case you're wondering, here's my current subscription list: Fast Company, The New Yorker, Glamour, Self, Entertainment Weekly, People.