A Giant Falls: PC Magazine Ends Print Edition

Following the steps of many newspapers shuttering their print editions and focusing on online, PC Magazine has decided to stop publishing its long-running magazine and become a Web-only publication.

The decision, reported at Paid Content in an interview with publisher Ziff Davis CEO Jason Young, comes on the heels of the company’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy struggle. PC Magazineconsidered by many to be among the top tier of computing publications — has been in print for just over 25 years, since 1982. It had scaled back from bi-weekly to monthly just earlier this year.

The final print issue will be the January 2009 edition, Paid Content reports. Only seven employees will lose work as a result, the site says; all of the editorial staffers will remain on-board for the online edition (for which all of them, as you might imagine, have already been writing). According to the interview, the site will retain its PCMag.com moniker, though the overall network of sites — including ExtremeTech, Gearlog, and others — will take on the name PCMag Digital Network.

Young indicated the PC Magazine brand was bringing on “tens and tens of millions” of dollars, noting that the online income has grown a whopping 42 percent a year since 2001 and that digital revenue now accounts for close to three-quarters of the company’s income.

While we’ve seen newspaper after newspaper experience cuts or closures, this is the first major magazine that comes to mind that’s taken on a complete shutdown of its print operation.

PC Magazine has yet to issue any sort of official statement or acknowledgement of the decision.

UPDATE:PC Magazine editor-in-chief Lance Ulanoff published an open letter late Wednesday afternoon confirming the changes and describing the reasons behind them. The letter follows in its entirety.

The January 2009 issue (Volume 28, Issue 1) of PC Magazine will mark a monumental transition for the publication. It is the last printed edition of this venerable publication. Of course, as with any technology-related enterprise, this is not the end, but the beginning of something exciting and new.

Starting in February 2009, PC Magazine will become a 100-percent digital publication. So, in addition to our popular network of Websites, which includes our centerpiece, PCMag.com, as well as ExtremeTech, blogs like Gearlog and AppScout, and audio and video content that includes PCMag Radio, Cranky Geeks and DL.TV, we’ll offer PC Magazine Digital Edition to all of our print subscribers. The PC Magazine Digital Edition has actually been available since 2002. So for thousands of you, the benefits of this unique medium are already clear. And those benefits will continue to multiply in the coming months, as we work hard to enhance your digital experience.

With PC Magazine Digital, you will continue to receive the same quality, unbiased, expert reviews of products, as well as tech advice, news, and opinions you have come to expect from us these past 27 years, all in a package that is completely portable. Our coverage will not change, only the format, which offers these benefits:

  • It arrives in your e-mail automatically. Just click the link to either download the latest edition, or to view it entirely online.
  • It is portable. Once you’ve downloaded the issue (which takes a matter of seconds), just power up your PC and view it anywhere, on an airplane, in your hotel room, wherever.
  • It looks like the PC Magazine you’re familiar and comfortable with. I know why you’ve stuck with us all these years. You like the magazine and you enjoy the format. Our digital platform makes it possible to deliver that same magazine experience on your PC. So you can “turn” the pages and view our features and departments as you do now.
  • It’s lively and interactive. Our digital edition will eventually offer rich media options within a magazine format. So, for example, next to the product review you’re reading in First Looks, you can easily view a slideshow of that product. Or while you’re reading a Solutions article on Microsoft Outlook tips, our PC Labs experts can walk you through the steps of some of those tips in a video.
  • Yes, you can print it. You can print as many pages of the magazine as you want.
  • It’s searchable. Here’s something PC Magazine print cannot do. Enter a search term and PC Magazine Digital will fill all the related pages.
  • A live TOC: The table of contents is not only a place to find out what’s in this month’s issue. You can use it to navigate directly to the stories you want to read.
  • It’s Green: You can actually feel good about the amount of paper, ink, and gas we’ll all be saving by not producing and consuming a physical magazine.

For our current subscribers, if we already have your e-mail address, you don’t have to do a thing. The digital edition will begin arriving in your e-mail inbox. If we don’t have your e-mail address, please visit our customer service Web site (http://go.pcmag.com/subscriberservices) and follow the instructions on it. If you’re not yet a subscriber, you can find a free trial edition of PC Magazine Digital Edition at this link:.

While we are energized by the endless possibilities of the digital format, I assure you that the decision to stop producing a hard-bound copy was not an easy one. But the reality is that the ever-growing expense of print and delivery was turning the creation of a physical product into an untenable business proposition.

I want to personally thank you for more than 27 years of devotion to PC Magazine in its print form, and now I invite you to, if you haven’t already, join us in the digital age. There are many technology innovations on the horizon. It promises to be a wild ride, one for which you’ll find no better guide than the PCMag Digital Network.

—Lance Ulanoff
PCMag.com Network