When ReadyMade magazine stopped publishing, they sent a letter to Linette, telling her that, for the remainder of her subscription, she’d be receiving the decidedly less hip 1950s journal of the American housewife intent on keeping up with the Joneses, Better Homes and Gardens. I thought that was hilarious, but it’s no where near as funny as what happened today to my young friend Olivia, who just discovered that, from now on, instead of receiving the “alternative” music magazine Spin in her mailbox, she’d be receiving Car and Driver, making her the envy, I’m sure, of every young woman in her dorm. Here’s the letter that she received, along with her introductory issue. (I’m sure, as a lover of new music, she found the column on the redesign of the fuel door on the Ford Focus hatchback to be particularly riveting.)
I can understand not wanting to return subscription money, but it seems to me as though these companies could at least give a modicom of thought to the likely interests of their subscribers when coming up with alternatives, and not just pass along copies of the magazines they most want to force down the throat of America. But, they’re clearly not looking to satisfy their customers. That’s not the objective. If it were, they would have worked a deal with Rolling Stone, or some other comparable publication. (My guess is that Rolling Stone would have honored Spin subscriptions in hopes of later converting these folks to paid Rolling Stone subscribers.) This isn’t about treating people decently. This is about squeezing just a few more dollars out of a disappearing medium before print goes the way of the Dodo. By getting a few hundred thousand more copies of Car and Driver into circulation, they can, at least for the short-term, artificially boost their distribution numbers, and perhaps convince a few more car stereo companies to advertise. It’s a shell game. And that, my friends, is part of the reason the whole magazine industry is going down the tubes.
[note: SPIN was purchased by the online entertainment company BuzzMedia (the publisher of Buzznet, Celebuzz, Stereogum, TheSuperficial, and sites for the likes of Britney Spears, Kim Kardashian) in July of this year. I suspect that, from the start, the plan was to kill the print version, making Spin an online-only publication. And, as it’s been reported that Hearst Media recently invested in BuzzFeed, it’s not all that surprising to hear that Spin subscribers are being paid off in issues of Car and Driver, which is a Hearst publication. This, in the business world, is what they call synergy.]