Amazon Takes Magazines Off Its Digital Shelves

Are we one step closer to the end of a print legacy?

Close up of coffee cup and digital tablet on top of magazine stack - stock photo. Amazon has announced it is ending magazine subscriptions, both for print and digital.
No more magazine subscriptions (print or digital) via Amazon.
Tetra Images / Getty

Is the magazine finally obsolete? In a time when print books and brick-and-mortar booksellers are seeing surprising growth, Amazon just announced it will cease offering print and Kindle Newsstand magazine subscriptions this year.

Orders for individual titles already stopped last week; if you have a print subscription, you have until early June to utilize Amazon to manage those titles. All magazine subscriptions will stop on Sept. 4. According to the company, customers will still be able to access older digital issues from their orders and Amazon will send a prorated refund for undelivered issues after that date.

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“As part of our annual operating planning review process, we always look at each of our businesses and what we believe we should change,” Amazon spokesperson Julia Lee said in a statement to The Verge. “Following an assessment of our magazine and newspaper subscriptions and single-issue sales, we have made the difficult decision to discontinue these services. We don’t take these decisions lightly and are winding down these offerings in a phased manner over several months. We will continue to support customers, sellers and publishers during that time.” 

Engadget suggests the move is cost-related, as the company has cut thousands of jobs, paused construction on a second headquarters in Arlington and shut down some Amazon Go stores in the past few months. Last year, the company shut down all of its brick-and-mortar bookstores.

Given the ubiquitous presence of Amazon in our daily lives, the company’s loss of interest in magazines will probably have consequences for the publishing industry. And it’s sad, though a business reality. My first decade in publishing was in magazines. And I loved them, but I also pretty quickly adapted to the online world and let all but two print subscriptions lapse (Cook’s Illustrated and Consumer Reports, if you must know — though I really wish Time Out New York and Entertainment Weekly would return). The format does seem a bit antiquated, and it’s hard to see how many companies — Apple apparently excluded — can make money off of selling magazine subscriptions, print or digital.

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