Wired Magazine in Belgium: expensive habit

In this geeky world I’m in, there are few magazines as spot-on and influential as Wired Magazine. It’s one of the magazines I keep around for years after publication.

Wired was important not just because it was the first magazine to make the computer world seem hip; it also trained its eye on the implications of the onrushing new technology, not merely on appraising the newest machines and trendiest gadgets.
(from nettime.org)

I typically buy a copy of Wired when I’m in an airport, because they don’t carry it in most Belgian bookshops. So this year I thought: let’s just pretend we’re wealthy and buy a year’s subscription. I clicked the ‘Subscribe’ button on the site, and lo and behold, a year’s subscription only costs $10! (That’s about the same price as I pay over here for a single issue.) Great! Oh wait, that’s for US only. Let’s check ‘International’: for Europeans it’s a hefty $70.

Even if $70 is not the end of the world, why on earth would I pay a 600% premium for just transport? This made me think of the Brewster Kahle speech on NotCon 2004. The founder of the Internet Archive has set up the Internet BookMobile, a vehicle with all technology on board (Internet, color printer, binding machine) to print books on demand. His claim is that it costs $1 to print a black/white book with a color cover, while it costs $2 for a library to handle the lending of a book. Printing a self-made book (uploaded in PDF format) through the CafePress site costs $4.50. Kinkos charges a bit more ($5.95). So if one had to print 1000 copies for Western Europe and ship them from France, Germany or Poland (cheaper labor), this should be possible for less than $5 per copy?

So here’s my question: given the state-of-the-art in on-demand printing technology, isn’t it possible to have US-based magazines digitally transferred to a European location and printed closer to the reader? So I could subscribe to Wired, Fast Company ($56 for Europe instead of $12), Business 2.0, Rolling Stone ($65 for Europe instead of $13), Time Magazine, Newsweek (70€ instead of $30 per year) and – what the heck – Playboy ($45 for Europe instead of $12) for what one Wired subscription costs now?

7 thoughts on “Wired Magazine in Belgium: expensive habit”

  1. Chris Anderson, editor of Wired here:

    Thanks to the miracle of technorati watchlists, I saw your post. Excellent point–$70 does seem like a lot. I’ll talk to our circ people and find out why that is, and whether we can’t lower it.

  2. Well Chris, I ended up buying the subscription anyway, since buying them 1-by-1 is also an expensive habit, and I want to have ’em all.

  3. Hey ! It is true… We would like to read Wired I would not say at the US price, but let’s say 50 euros…

    If I can give you an advice, if you work in a US company, you can ask Wired to send your copy to the HQ and then by internal mail send it back in Belgium(using a mail stop) πŸ™‚ It is the way I do when I buy books in the USA… The problem is that the magazine will be put in my(physical) mailbox πŸ™‚ and my colleagues can steal my copy—or let’s say borrow it πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚
    Or we can find a bookshop in Belgium… But is it not 7 euros a copy ? That’s a complete shame… Or we can buy one and share it πŸ™‚

    See you, Rudy

  4. I did it finally by internal mail… 10 bucks not the end of the world… πŸ˜‰ but of course compared to your solution. there will be a delay…

  5. I have had a subscription to Wired a few times. The funny thing is that the publishing company, CondΓ©-Nast, did not seem to do any effort to invite me to renew my subscription. So after a year, my subscription expired without any notice.

    Have you considered this alternative way to get a subscription to Wired: for $35, become a subscriber of http://www.salon.com. You’ll get a free subscription to Wired Magazine. O sh*t, it’s only valid for people with a U.S. address.

  6. Well the very same happens with the subscription to Argentina. The internet+printing on site option seem to be the right idea.
    For example, The Economist climb up to U$ 219 for Argentina against U$ 129 for the states.

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