Yesterday I walked into a news agency (CNA) and looked to see if there were any computer magazines on the shelves. There were none. In the same shopping centre I went to the local branch of Exclus1ve Books, which has taken to stocking magazines, but again there were none.
It’s been like that for about three months now.
A few months ago there used to be a fair selection of magazines with titles like PC Format, PC User, Linux Format, Computer Shopper, and the like. Most of them came with a disc with free or shareware or trial programs, and I used to get most of my software that way. I’d have a look through the magazines on offer, seeing which ones had the most interestingt articles (or the most interesting software on the disc), and buy it. So I usually did not buy the same magazine every month.
But now they’re gone. I don’t know whether they stopped publoishing them all simultaneously, or whether the local shops decided to stop stocking them, or perhaps the South African distributors decided to stop importing them.
If they are still being published I suppose I could subscribe to one or other of them, but I can’t afford to subscribe to all of them, and that means there would be no choice. There is also the hassle of organising it, and the exorbitant bank charges one has to pay, and the possibility that it may be held for customs inspection at the post office, where, even if it is found not to be dutiable, a “handling fee” is charged which is usually more than the cover price of the magazine (as are the bank charges).
If this is a new policy of the news agencies and book shops, it is a rather short-sighted one. Perhaps they weren’t making enough profit on those magazines, because they only sold 5-10 copies of each a month. What they do not take into account is that the people who bought them went into the shop, and, while there, often bought other things as well — things like stationery, books, newspapers and the like.
A few years ago the same thing happened with genealogy and family history magazines. I used to have a standing order for Family Tree Magazine, and that got me into their shop at least once a month. I’d sometimes buy another one they used to stock, called Your Family Tree if it had articles of special interest, or interesting software on the disc.
But no more.
Where the computer magazines used to be, there are now only magazines about digital photography, and magazine-type books about apps to use on your cell phone, most of which don’t work anyway — my cell phone won’t even update the apps that it does have, or even its own operating system, because it doesn’t have enough memory.
So yesterday I got home and realised that I’d intended to buy a road map, but I’d forgotten to do so because when I saw the shop had no computer magazines I walked out without buying anything.