Subscription guilt

I try to have most of my magazine subscriptions renew around the end of the year. Many of them do, but not all of them. But this year I have a bit of a dilemma. I have 4 subscriptions which still arrive in paper form, but 3 of those 4 subscriptions I also receive electronically. Two of these are up for renewal in their print form: New Scientist and Analog.

My dilemma: I receive both of these electronically, New Scientist through Zinio and Analog on the Kindle. This means I’ve been paying for 2 subscriptions for each. It seems silly to pay for both paper and electronic subscriptions, especially since I am continually trying to decrease the amount of paper I handle. But at the same time, it’s difficult to cancel the paper subscriptions for these two magazines. I’ve been a long-time subscriber to both New Scientist and Analog. I feel guilty canceling the subscriptions even though I still receive them in other forms. In the case of Analog, I don’t want my cancellation to negatively affect Analog’s subscription numbers, but I don’t know how they count Kindle subscriptions. The one should offset the other. New Scientist has been sending me renewal notices, but seems to have no idea that I subscribe through Zinio. I wish these systems were better coordinated.

One might say that I could continue my Analog subscription. It’s only $35/year or so. But since I already get Analog on the Kindle, wouldn’t that $35 be better spend on subscribing to another magazine? Indeed, I’ve added subscriptions to Lightspeed and Clarkesworld over the last few months and I like getting all of those magazines. Isn’t that worth sacrificing the paper version of Analog? Perhaps, but I still feel guilty about it.

I suppose I’d feel better if I knew that the Kindle and Zinio subscriptions were accurately counted in the circulation and were tied back to my original subscription, so that it didn’t seem like I canceled my subscription to the magazine without them realizing it was merely just a change to a different format.

I know this must sound silly, but I do find myself facing this subscription guilt at this time of the year. But if I go completely paperless with Analog and New Scientist, it means that the only subscriptions I still get on paper are Time Magazine and Scientific American, and I also get Time electronically as part of my paper subscription. (There, the model is stilly: you can’t get an electronic subscription without a paper subscription. Kind of goes against the whole “going paperless” thing. Scientific American doesn’t yet have a non-PDF electronic subscription mechanism that I am aware of.

Going into 2012, therefore, I’ll be getting Analog, Asimov’s Clarkesworld, Lightspeed, F&SF, New Scientist and Time magazine all electronically. Time will also still come on paper, as will Scientific American.

Published by Jamie Todd Rubin

Jamie Todd Rubin writes fiction and nonfiction for a variety of publications including Analog, Clarkesworld, The Daily Beast, 99U, Daily Science Fiction, Lightspeed, InterGalactic Medicine Show, and several anthologies. He was featured in Lifehacker’s How I Work series. He has been blogging since 2005. By day, he manages software projects and occasionally writes code. He lives in Falls Church, Virginia with his wife and three children. Find him on Twitter at @jamietr.

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