The plight of the anorexic computer mag

It’s strange how times have changed. I am subscribed to four mainstream British computer magazines and there is a definite trend, which a long-timer like me can see: computer magazines are becoming anorexic.

No, sincerely, this is true. Anyone who went to the US in early 1990's will remember those massive Computer Shopper bible-like magazines - they were larger than A4 in format and often packed near to 1000 pages. God knows how many trees were felled to make them.

But then came the Internet with its free content and quite a few advantages that print media simply couldn’t compete with. Suddenly, computer magazines were boxed into a corner.

Gradually some of the most prominent ones disappeared – Byte, Microsystèmes, InfoPC, PC Magazine, PC Direct amongst them. Many now exist only online or in Zinio screen-readable versions.

Now even 25 year-old computer magazine PCW is resorting to what seems to be slightly desperate measures as my February 2006 edition confirms.

Slimming down the magazine to the strict minimum, getting weird advertisers onboard (one is selling tickets to win yourself the dream car), bundling an online gambling magazine, and putting more emphasis on a classified ads-like section, and single page, single advertiser bundles. They have also tried to have a sponsored editorial section, which failed to catch advertisers’ imaginations.

Now with PC World launching its own magazine, free to customers who spend over £25, and other stores sure to catch up, the independent, glossy, quality printed, computer magazine might soon be a thing of the past.