Gardening Mags Going Digital?


GdThis shouldn’t be surprising, since everything else in the world is going online.  But Garden Design
on my laptop screen instead of my coffee table?  If has their way, we’ll all  be saving trees, getting immediate delivery, and searching and storing easily with the help of their new-and-improved PDF format. 

Now to be fair, it DOES look a helluva lot better than the PDF we’re used to seeing.  And searching sounds like an awfully nice feature to me, considering the lengths I’ve gone to over the years to somehow flag the most useful articles in my stacks of gardening magazines – only to never remember that they exist.

What prompted my interest was hearing the prediction (with the tiny disclaimer "though I’ve been wrong before") that THIS IS THE FUTURE by a photographer friend of mine who’s worked with magazines for 35 years and teaches "new media".  So if he’s touting it and major magazines are all climbing on board the digital train, let’s check it out, shall we?  Here’s page 1 of their 2 pages of home and garden magazines, where you’ll see not just Garden Design but Organic Gardening, too, and a few more I personally don’t bother with, like Gardening and Deck Design

It looks like digital magazine subscriptions cost about $2 per issue (for OG) or a little more (for GD) – about half the subscription price for print.  But then I get confused because it seems that they’re also selling single issues of GD in digital format for 6 bucks each, the exact same price we’d pay at a newstand for glossy paper.  Help me out here.

So okay, lower subscription rates are nice but do you think you’d enjoy reading them this way, either online or using one of their readers?  I’m on the fence myself – though probably not for long, as the wheels of digitization keep grinding along.  Better price, searchability, easier storeability, and remember those trees.


  1. Well, I am sure it will happen. I am from a publishing background and slowly slowly, our magazines and newspapers are disappearing.
    BUT… I love to sit down, outside on a sunny day (which you can’t do with a laptop & still read your screen) with a magazine or two and a cup of tea. It just won’t be the same.

  2. Well, I’m sure it will NEED to happen at some point. And environmentally, it’s the more sound solution. But, frankly, I don’t always want to be sitting at a screen to read. Perhaps I’ll make the leap once the new Kindle electronic reader has been proven. It certainly sounds nifty. And I do love a gadget!

    Robin at Bumblebee

  3. I have a thing about paper, and in the past I have bought stationary just because I loved the smell; and I also collect leather books. I cannot imagine reading a magazine online, but I know it’s good for the environment. Actually, come to think of it, I rarely buy magazines anyway. $6 seems too expensive for a magazine. The two I subscribe to — National Geographic and Smithsonian — I have been getting for years so I don’t count them. I am looking forward to the comments because I do love my computer also, and if someone can convince me to read a magazine online, I might try it.

  4. digital magazines just don’t really do it for me. Hard to sit with a cup of tea or glass of wine and really enjoy the magazine. I’m afraid I’ll spill on my laptop!

  5. I’ve been reading newspapers on-line for so long that when I do have an actual newspaper in hand, I don’t remember any more how to organize my reading experience.

    So I probably could get used to digital magazines, as much as I think I’d miss all that glossy paper.

    Lately, I’ve been very struck by how thin and wasted most shelter magazines seem. So maybe the digital model works better economically–

    But, let’s be serious! They don’t have on-line personalities in the least. Safe, smiley, prescriptive, boring–how on earth are these dull pubs going to compete with bloggers?

  6. My main question about online editions is with long-term storage of a digital format. This is something archives are currently trying to deal with too. The fact is, digital information does not archive well, and even when it does, formats change. You probably won’t be able to come back and read that magazine issue eight years from now on your computer (or your next computer), while you may still have the hard copy. Of course, you could always print *only* the articles you know you will look at again – perhaps that is a workable compromise between digital and paper formats.

  7. I don’t think they compete with bloggers now – I’d much rather come here (or to any other number of places). So often magazine material isn’t appropriate to my region or isn’t interesting or well-written. With a blog, I know how to excerpt the nice bits or skip away, but if I pay “real” money for a magazine, I expect there to be something extraordinary. I’m much more likely to spend two to four times as much on a book, which is constructed to act as a reference and I can make sure is something I’ll use and enjoy, and catch up on the “garden gossip” and “trends” online.
    BUT. Online catalogs much more sucky than real paper catalogs, and I have no idea why.

  8. Anita, I so agree. On-line gardening catalogs are impossible to browse. I like ordering on-line, but I don’t like shopping on-line.

  9. I am with you all – paper magazines are much more enjoyable than reading on a computer screen. But maybe they could just put the ads on the computer if we promised to look at them and then save some of the paper.
    I am sure I am not the only one who has a hard time reading long articles on the computer – I skim a lot more and don’t get the ideas as well. If it is something important I will print it out and read it. Maybe they will switch to video magazines – I have no problem paying attention to Youtube.

  10. I’m of mixed minds about this digital magazine prospect – on the one hand, I understand the need for conserving paper and ink in an increasingly resource scarce and over polluted world, but on the other hand, computers use electricity to operate, so, is that an even wash perhaps? I like to read my garden magazines on the subway on my way to work, under a tree in the garden, etc…and my laptop just doesn’t give me that cozy and intimate a feeling (my laptop also generates heat and makes my thighs hot and itchy when actually used on my lap). Magazines are lighter to carry around than a heavier laptop. Also, I like to make notes in the marginalia of my magazines, and that’s not possible on-line. When I am done with my magazines, I leave them in waiting rooms at doctor offices, hoping that by doing so they will be used again and just might open up someone else’s idled mind to the world of gardening – you can’t really do that with a digital image.

  11. Eric, you made me realize I mainly read mags on the subway, too. There, and in bed in those 10-20 minutes before turning off the light. So digital magazine-reading just may not happen for me.

  12. I do a lot of my reading and research on-line. I can not imagine doing my job without the handy Internet and Google (Google is my friend!). However, I’d have a hard time giving up books, magazines and newspapers completely. The feel, smell, and heft of print publications are all part of the reading experience for me. Yes, I know this is a paper-wasteful vice and I’m wrestling with that.

    I’m going to turn this topic around. From a writer’s perspective, this gets into a fuzzy realm of publishing rights, as was illustrated by the recent Writers Guild strike. Current practices will need to be adapted. It will be interesting to see how it works itself out. One repercussion I foresee is that “local” won’t be local anymore, it will be global, reducing opportunities for writers to publish in other regional markets. (it’s already hard enough to make a living as a writer).

    I’ve seen many instances of on-line plagiarism already. As more pubs go on-line that will likely become even more of a problem.

  13. Oh, wait a minute. You can get British gardening magazines through this thing. I’m in the “I wanna be able to read it in the bathtub” camp, but international gardening mags? Ooooohhhh…

  14. I see online mags as a great way to expand readership, but I’d like to have the choice between online, paper bound, or both.

    I like my magazine in my hands. I sit at a screen all day for work (reading and writing). I want to relax with something tangible, not digital. I want to thumb through things, move through the magazine at my own pace, sit in the yard, in the tub, at the doctor’s office and physically interact with it in 3d (no mouse clicks and scrolling.) I like revisiting pages and articles with dog ears, cutting out inspiring images and posting them on an idea board or in an idea book, walking by my pile of Garden Design mags and taking comfort in just knowing they’re there. When I see my mags in my home, on my shelf or desk or coffee table or nightstand etc., it’s like seeing an old friend across the room at a cocktail party or sharing a knowing glance with your favorite co-worker. I’m comforted and excited and validated–it’s a very important emotional experience for me.

  15. Its the postage rates for magazines folks. They are skyrocketing this year. Time-Warner is behind it I hear from a postal honcho.

  16. what a dilemma! i’m all for saving the environment, and i recycle like mad, but there’s nothing like sitting down with a gorgeous, glossy magazine or book in hand, to browse and read and savor. Can’t I just give up something else instead, like printed utility and gas bills? Or I’ll park the car and walk more often, or dry more clothes on my clothesline (which I do now anyway)? But please…not my printed magazines.

  17. It IS indeed a dilemma. I’m considering giving up the subscription to the newspaper (will they drop my column if I do? ) or cutting it to the weekend papers only (for the newsprint for compost purposes). I don’t mind reading online, since I already read about 100 blogs online, but as noted above, storage of digital media becomes problematic. Plus not everyone is on highspeed, and not everyone CAN get on highspeed. And reading your laptop or PDA in the bathtub is looking for troubles.

  18. If progress has to take us to digital magazines i hope there will be a very very long transition period where we can get both digital and more in depth printed magazines.Horticulture Magazine is doing that now.When i am online anyway i usually check the digital version and then read the in depth article in my magazine.Have a hard time imagening all those beautiful magazines disappearing into my laptop.As mentioned above,laptop cant go to the bathtub,does not cozy up to a glass of wine,does not distract me in a doctors or dentists waiting room.

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