PC Magazine US disappears from the shelves
Ziff Davis Media announced in New York on Wednesday that it will publish its last printed edition of the US computer magazine PC Magazine with its January 2009 issue and after that will exclusively become an online publication. The current flagship of the struggling Ziff Davis publishing house is to remain the leading brand of the publishers' online network at the well-established PCMag.com internet address.
For Ziff Davis CEO Jason Young, the move towards an exclusively-digital publication is the last step in an evolutionary process of several years. For the readers, it marks the end of an era: PC Magazine has been published since 1982, initially on a monthly basis. When the magazine became too bulky, the publication cycle was switched to fortnightly. However, the media crisis and the migration of readers to the net – which particularly affects computer publications – have left their marks on this established institution.
Its circulation plummeting, PC Magazine returned to being a monthly publication at the beginning of 2008. From 2009, the magazine will be published in digital form only. Current subscribers will receive a monthly email notification with a link to download the magazine. New subscriptions work out at 62¢ a copy. Occasional readers will be limited to whatever material is still made available on the website. "Join us in the digital age," writes Editor-in-Chief Lance Ulanoff in an open letter to his readers – who are very likely to have arrived there a long time ago.
According to a report by Paid Content, seven production staff will probably lose their jobs because of the discontinuation of the printed edition. According to Young in an interview with Paid Content the online edition generates double-figure millions in revenue, which grew by 18 per cent in the third quarter. According to the executive, 70 per cent of the publishers' revenue is already generated by the profit-making online version.
In March 2008, Ziff Davis filed for bankruptcy and creditor protection. In June, the creditors and the bankruptcy court accepted a rescue plan to restructure the company. The trademark PCmag isn't the company's only restructuring project, however. Young said that Ziff Davis has already announced additional measures which could also affect the gaming sector and the company's last printed edition, Electronic Gaming Monthly (EGM). Ziff Davis is exploring its strategic options in this area.
The news generates a sense of nostalgic déjà vu for former readers, contributors and staff of the UK edition of PC Magazine, which ceased print publication in 2002. Before its disappearance from the newstands, PC Mag UK had changed hands several times since it was launched in the UK by Ziff Davis, eventually owned and published by Dutch publishers VNU. VNU subsequently acquired AC Nielsen and Nielsen Media and rebranded as The Nielsen Company, selling its UK titles to Incisive Media, under whose ownership PC Mag UK – like its US progenitor – continues as an online publication.