Harry McCracken commenting on this for Time magazine writes:
In the age before the web, if you were serious about this stuff, you didn’t just read one computer magazine. You read several, and you probably couldn’t wait to get your hands on them.The web with its access to thousands of good news and review sources has changed what people are willing to pay for.
The recent Oregonian slide to four day print publishing is another indicator of the impact of the massive expansion of free, easily accessible online news sources.
The problem is generational as well as practical. When a few minutes of easy entertainment was needed, the older generation would pick up a newspaper or magazine to browse. The younger generation, now plays a tablet or phone game. They aren't going to turn to digital reading for quick, fill-in entertainment. But neither is the older generation going to be happy with firing up a tablet or phone for quick digital reading.
Print media like PCWorld is caught between two stools. The public that finds their brand of entertainment appealing does not reach for digital first. The public that naturally turns to digital prefers games to informational entertainment.
So, as a print subscriber am I going to sit back in my easy chair or lay back in bed and enjoy the digital magazine (or newspaper) as I did the print edition? Not really. The extra effort makes it less likely that I will read the magazine for fun. Digital does allow for exact navigating to particular articles (a bane in many print magazines) and seamlessly provides text for "large print" reading years. But, those are the major digital pluses I can think of for the average reader wanting just a bit of easy fill-in or before bed entertainment.
And then there are the technical glitches. (Read some of the 1 star reviews here.) It's not just crabby people or technical bozos commenting. I ran into one issue myself. I have an older 9" tablet that I bought a mere two years ago. The magazine app doesn't work with it. Two year old hardware is already a dinosaur for digital subscriptions. So, to view my magazine subscription I have to get new spendy computer hardware. Granted I got my 7" tablet for about $100 for the fun of fooling around with a newer android version. But, a $100 hardware purchase every few years to read a $20 yearly digital subscription? Not so great.
Except for books (which are a lot lighter and easier to handle on my Kindle, Nook, tablet or even android phone than a print version), digital print media is not easier or more fun than print media. Since most print reading subscriptions are based on entertainment, that's a big hurdle digital has yet to overcome.
I wish PCWorld luck in their venture. I don't think I will stop my subscription for the year and a half left--or ask for a refund for the lesser service. But, since some of the fun will be gone, I probably will spend a lot less time reading/browsing the digital version than I did with the print edition. That doesn't bode well for subscription renewal in 2015.