Wednesday, April 19, 2023

The End of Computer Magazines in America

Harry McCracken (via Jason Snell):

I’m not writing this article because the dead-tree versions of Maximum PC and MacLife are no more. I’m writing it because they were the last two extant U.S. computer magazines that had managed to cling to life until now. With their abandonment of print, the computer magazine era has officially ended.


Then again, if you want to quibble, Maximum PC and MacLife may barely have counted as U.S. magazines at the end; their editorial operations migrated from the Bay Area to the UK at some point in recent years when I wasn’t paying attention. (Both were owned by Future, a large British publishing firm.)


But the web didn’t render printed computer magazines obsolete overnight. PCW had some of its fattest, happiest years as a business in the late 1990s. Even in 2008, when I left, the print magazine was a profit center, not an albatross.

Indeed, the entire computer magazine category spent years in Wile E. Coyote mode. We’d blithely walked off a cliff—it’s just that gravity hadn’t kicked in yet.


Pretending that the internet didn’t exist sounds like a preposterous strategy for keeping a print magazine alive, but it somehow worked. Maximum PC and MacLife survived—scrawny, but with a pulse—until 2023. Their final issues were 98-page weaklings that cost $9.99 apiece and seem to have a grand total of one page of paid advertising between them—plus an article sponsored by a mail-order computer dealer.

John Gruber:

As McCracken himself notes, it’s impossible to overstate the essential role computer magazines played before the web. I read Macworld and MacUser cover-to-cover every month.

Chris Adamson:

The hospital gift shop had a copy of the last issue of the last surviving print computer magazine in the US.


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Pardon my french, but this really sucks a huge bag of d*cks :(

Does anyone know where I can get a physical copy of the last MacLife?

Things are somewhat healthier here in the UK. My local newsagent (WHSmith) stocks three (3) Linux magazines. I also saw last week that there was a publication on crypto. I was over in France recently and the newsagent at the airport just outside of Paris was even more impressive. I don’t recall how many computer magazines they had, but there was a great selection of music magazines (a few catering just to guitarists).

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