My Subscriptions

It is the age of the unbundled subscription, and I am wondering how long it will last? And also, what do our subscriptions say about us?

Here are mine in approximate order of acquisition:

In the pre-internet days I was also a subscriber to Harper’s and The Atlantic, but dropped both subscriptions some time ago. The articles in Harper’s weren’t grabbing me.

The real tragedy was The Atlantic, which would publish something I really wanted to read less than once a month, so I would end up … reading it on the internet for free. The incentive structure for internet content is pretty relentless in terms of requiring new material very very frequently, and a monthly publication like The Atlantic fits that model quite poorly.

Except for Volts, this list of paid subscriptions is curiously devoid of a huge category of my media consumption: podcasts. I listen to Ezra Klein, Chris Hayes, Strict Scrutiny, Mike Duncan, and Odd Lots for hours a week, for free. This feels… off kilter.

Although I guess a some of these podcasts are brand embassadors for larger organizations (NYT, NBC, Bloomberg), it seems hard to believe advertising is really the best model, particularly for someone like Mike Duncan who has established a pretty big following.

(If Mike Duncan committed to another multi-year history project, I’d sign up!)

One thing I haven’t done yet is tot up all these pieces and see how they compare to my pre-internet subscription / media consumption bill. A weekend newspaper or two every week. Cable television. The three current affairs magazines. The weekly video rental. Even taken ala carte, I bet the old fashioned way of buying did add up over the course of a year.

I’m looking forward to a little more consolidation, particularly in the individual creator category. Someone will crack the “flexible bundle” problem to create the “virtual news magazine” eventually, and I’m looking forward to that.