Follow awfulagent on Twitter

About Me

A blog wherein a literary agent will sometimes discuss his business, sometimes discuss the movies he sees, the tennis he watches, or the world around him. In which he will often wish he could say more, but will be obliged by business necessity and basic politeness and simple civility to hold his tongue. Rankings are done on a scale of one to five Slithy Toads, where a 0 is a complete waste of time, a 2 is a completely innocuous way to spend your time, and a 4 is intended as a geas compelling you to make the time.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

The Unbearable Heaviness of Unpaid Content

For over 30 years, I have been a devout reader of Variety.

Now, I hate the actual printed magazine.  It doesn't take long to read, maybe fifteen or twenty minutes in a good week.  And this quick read comes in the form of an oversize magazine printed on heavy coated white paper.   Who wants to go around on the subway holding a heavy, oversized magazine that doesn't take very long to read and which requires lots and lots of page turns?  The magazine is as annoying as it is informative.

However, the printed magazine is now only a small portion of the total content Variety offers.  Every week there are dozens of articles and reviews and columnists to be found on the magazine's website that aren't to be found in the weekly magazine.

There is no paywall on the website.  The owner of Variety has made a business decision not to charge for its content.

I prefer content like this in print. There are week-long stretches when I have plenty of time to sit at my computer or use their iPad app and devour all the content the website has to offer, but there are other times when it would be so much nicer to have a printed publication with more of the content which I can read outside when it is too cold for the iPad, or when I am on cellular data.  I spend enough of my life at a computer and it keeps dragging me to spend more of it there.

It's a dilemma.

Maybe less of one, maybe easier to pay, if I just didn't like the magazine. But no. I actively dislike the magazine.  It is an annoyance.  I dread seeing it arrive in my mailbox each week.  There is no way to subscribe to the magazine without casting a vote in its favor, and that isn't a vote I wish to cast. I guess I could get an "online subscription" but why would anyone do that when all the content is there for free? As a result of a conscious business decision by the owner.

It feels kind of like putting money into a tip jar, only in this case it would be the tip jar of the wealthy owner of Penske Media who made a decision not to charge for content, and to develop a magazine I don't want to read.

So why does it still feel wrong not to pay?

No comments: