I used to have a lot of magazine subscriptions. Now I have two of them. I guess that’s the story of the whole magazine industry as it continues its decline but it’s also the story of me getting older and not being interested in a lot of stuff printed in magazines anymore. That and they’ve gotten more expensive. Back in the 1990’s I used to be able to get a magazine subscription for under ten dollars. Sometimes that was for twelve issues and sometimes only for six but either way it was fairly cheap. I’d subscribe to a magazine on a whim. I even had a couple of those “FHM” type magazines that I would skim each month because the subscription was only six dollars. There was never much to read in them but for fifty cents an issue they were okay.

The early to mid 1990s was not only the heyday of my own video game playing but it was also the heyday of video game magazines. A new one seemed to debut every six months. I had subscriptions to at least four different video game magazines. They were fun for a while. A bunch of my friends and co-workers were also into video games so we used to pour over the issues and have fun looking a what games were going to come out. And the reviews of games always helped. We’d pass around the magazine when a new one would come out.

Somewhere along the way the way I reached a saturation point with the video game magazines. So did my friends. The magazines became filled with less and less actual information and more and more press release hype from video game companies. I guess that as video game companies got more sophisticated about their marketing the magazines were happy to become just another part of that marketing. After all it was the ads for games that paid the magazine’s bills. Things got boring for us readers. A friend of mine used to refer to the magazine “Electronic Gaming Monthly” as “Press Release Monthly”. Even before the rise of the internet my friends and I stopped reading video game magazines. Now I haven’t picked one up in ten years.

I had a few subscriptions to history magazines too. That’s still an interest of mine. I remember a couple of them being good but not good enough to keep around forever. There was even one that I can’t recall the name of that was was just an accumulation of articles from other magazine. That one was a little weird. It seemed thrown together and without much focus. As you can imagine I didn’t keep reading it for very long.

One of the magazines I still get is a history mag. “Archeology” is its name and it’s a good one. It obviously covers what is happening in archeology and that is a lot of historical ground. One issue may have an article about ancient Greece followed by another on a Civil War battlefield. I can always count on some interesting reading to be found in its pages. It’s good stuff and has some nice photos to go along with things.

Oddly enough I never had many subscriptions to magazines about comic books. That was probably because I worked in the comic book biz at the time and so didn’t need to read about it but there were also not many comic book magazines that I liked. “Wizard” magazine was the most famous one about comics and there were usually issues of it lying around the office but I barely ever read it. It was a little too mainstream for me.

I did have a subscription to the “Comics Buyers Guide” for a few years. At the time it was a weekly newspaper about comics and I enjoyed it in that format. Then, in the early 2000’s if memory serves, CBG changed its format to become a monthly magazine. That’s when they lost me. They modeled themselves more on “Wizard” then they had before and that wasn’t up my alley. That and the weekly columns I enjoyed were now monthly while the subscription was still around the same price. I dropped it and I’m no longer even sure if it’s still around. “Wizard” magazine sure isn’t around anymore. That’s too bad because even if it wasn’t to my taste a lot of people once liked it. It ruled the comic book magazine world for a while.

I’ve tried reading magazines on my iPad but really haven’t gotten into it. The iPad is smaller than a magazine and that takes away a lot from the reading experience. In order for the type to be big enough to read I can’t view the whole page at once. That makes things tough to follow. It ruins the layout. And magazines aren’t cheap on the iPad. A subscription for ten dollars is hard to find. Most are around thirty dollars. Not cheap. None of the samples I’ve downloaded have motivated me to pay for any issues just yet. I did get one subscription through the Kindle app though. TV Guide. Not that it’s the greatest magazine but it’s only a dollar a month for four issues a month. Twelve dollars a year beats the hell out of thirty.

I used to have subscriptions to about three art magazines. They were among the more expensive ones. There is nothing cheap about art magazines. I’m guessing that’s why I stopped getting them. I always enjoyed a good art mag but I remember the bill reaching sixty dollars for one magazine I used to get. And that was half off the cover price. Probably one year I didn’t have the sixty dollars and that was that. We humans are all about habit. Stop one and it doesn’t start again easily.

My other remaining subscription besides “Archeology” is one called “The Sun”. It’s a literary magazine. That means it’s filled with stories. Each issue starts with an interview with some interesting person that I’ve never heard of. Usually someone out to change the world for the better in some way. Each issue also includes short pieces on a prearranged topic sent in by readers. It’s called, “Readers Write” and can always be counted on for good reading. The rest of the magazine is filled out with short stories that tend towards the introspective and depressing. They’re usually hope mixed in there too so it’s not all gloomy. They don’t shy away from darkness though.

I think my subscriptions topped out at around twelve magazines a month back in the mid 1990’s. Some were bi-monthly so it was probably about 15 actual subscriptions. Now I’m down to two paper ones and a recently added digital subscription. It has to do with both them and me. Things rarely stay the same.