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Entertainment Weekly No More


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Entertainment Weekly No More

by Neena Louise

I had subscribed to the print edition Entertainment Weekly since its first issue in 1990. I’ve never subscribed to anything else – magazine or otherwise – for as long and couldn’t imagine it not being in the house. However, they finally pushed me away and I am no longer a subscriber.

Their subscription department had always been the absolute worst. The reminder notices would start coming via snail mail a full year before my subscription was up – all with various incentives to renew. I’d save them up and pick out the best incentive and use that to renew. Then they’d take absolutely forever to renew it, despite taking my payment immediately. It got oh-so-close to my renewal deadline one year (even though I’d paid 6 weeks earlier), that I emailed to ask why. They rectified it, and gave me an extra year on both my subscription and a gift subscription I’d ordered. I don’t know if that was a mistake or not, and I wasn’t about to contact their shoddy subscription department again. So: score!

The last year, however, I received no renewal notices at all – via either via snail mail or email. I suddenly realized my subscription was about to lapse and went online to renew it. They had changed both my account number and the method of renewing online and I could not for the life of me figure out how to do it. I tried via my account, but it kept taking me to some 3rd-party site that just kept insisting my password was invalid and I had to change it. I changed it 4 times before giving up. I contacted Entertainment Weekly‘s customer disservice, and they just told me to do the same thing I’d already tried numerous times, even though I’d told them it wasn’t working.

I was very frustrated at that point and wondered how in the world I was supposed to renew my subscription. Then I took a breath. I’d blindly renewed my subscription year after year without thinking about it. Now I thought about it and came to a conclusion: I didn’t want to renew it.

Even though it was the most expensive magazine I’d ever subscribed to, the quality had deteriorated so much that the only thing I was actually reading was the “What to Watch” column, which gave highlights of upcoming TV shows for the week. I would then put the issue aside and read the rest of it between commercials while watching TV. At least that’s what I used to do. Now I had a pile of 5 or 6 issues sitting unread on the coffee table. I didn’t think the high cost of subscribing was worth one column that contained information I could get elsewhere for free. The rest of the issue was full of things I had no interest in – not the least of which was an unhealthy obsession with Game of Thrones.

I flipped through the most recent unread issue sitting on the table and found very little of interest. Even the articles that looked promising turned out to be…well, not. I picked up the next-to-latest unread issue and it was the same thing. The others simply went into the recycling bin, unread. I was actually a little upset at myself for paying for something that had so little of interest to me. What a waste!

So I let it lapse after 29(!) years. I emailed them to explain why I cancelled after being loyal for nearly three decades and I got nothing in return. Clearly, they couldn’t possibly care any less about their print subscribers. Two months later, I received an envelope in the mail with”NOTICE OF EXPIRATION” emblazoned on the front in big, red letters. Too little too late. Do I miss it? Not. One. Bit. I wish I’d cancelled it sooner.

Then I heard that Entertainment Weekly was going to published monthly instead of weekly. I suspect that marks the beginning of the end. The whole purpose and allure of it was that it was entertainment news. A monthly entertainment magazine is good only for doctors’ offices and collecting, not news. I can’t say I’m surprised, either. I’m surely not the only one who always had trouble renewing a subscription, not to mention the magazine’s rapid decline in quality.

The magazine industry has been declining for years, now. Yes, you can get most magazines online, but I still prefer the print versions that I can pick and up flip through. The industry had, at one time, mounted an advertising campaign to keep people reading the print versions. They no longer do so. I guess they realized how much cheaper it was to just throw it online and make people pay for that privilege, and decided not to bother printing them anymore.

However, there are still millions of printed magazines available – and they sell. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t print them. In this age of instant entertainment on every computer, tablet and smartphone, the magazine industry should be making more of an effort to keep and attract print subscribers instead of pushing them away in favor of digital. Even if a subscriber opts to consume the magazine online, you can’t attract new subscribers without letting them know it exists in the first place. Magazines – new or old – are hard to find when there are a zillion online magazines from which to choose. Considering how little snail mail people receive these days, an incentive arriving by snail mail would be much more likely noticed than yet another email that one deletes without opening.

Whether it be magazines, newspapers or books, print is not dead. It just has to get more creative to survive and thrive.

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