How to get Newspapers and Magazines for FREE!

(because you can’t surf the Web from the Bathroom)

How would you like a free subscription to the top Rock and Roll magazine? Due to the current financial climate, you can have a year for free just by asking. As you probably know, print media is in BIG trouble. The business model of newspapers and magazines is changing, and they are having to adjust. In their good old days, a paper covered its expenses solely with money from the subscriptions and while the golden egg of profit came from selling advertisements. How much they can charge for ads still depends on the number of readers. This model worked great until the Internet came along and people (like YOU reading this right now, yes this is your fault) dropped their subscriptions in favor of reading for free on the Internet. Now that the number of subscriptions is dropping, magazines and newspapers are desperate to keep their ad rates up. So many would rather give you the darn thing for free and still bill full rate to the advertisers. It is better to have part of something than all of nothing, right? Of course, I’d rather read the Internet too, so mostly the magazines get read in the toilet where a laptop just doesn’t belong.

I’ve been getting my local Sunday paper for free for several years now. Back when I was big into TIVO (I download everything now but that’s another article), I’d go through the entire TV guide that came with the newspaper and highlight all the programs I’d want to be recorded. When they changed the format to list only the prime time schedule, I complained directly to the Editor. He said people are getting that information on the Internet now to which I responded that I can get all of his paper’s content on the Internet and what was useful from his paper is a hard copy sitting on the coffee table all week. He was polite but didn’t see my point. So I told him the TV guide was the main reason I got the paper and now I was just going to let me subscription lapse. Then I stopped paying but the paper never stopped delivery. Now it’s a few years later and I’m still getting it.

So it dawned on me to try this with other publications. I’ve found that this works with several others including national magazines. When you send in the subscription postcard marked ‘Bill Me’, they’ll always immediately start sending you issues of the magazine before they receive payment. Sure, I’ll read your rag but I’m not coughing up five bucks at the newsstand for it. It used to be I’d get a couple issues but they’d stop coming when I didn’t pay the bill. However, lately I’m more likely to get six to twelve issues before they cut me off. RS is the only publication I’ll mention here but, trust me, this works with others too. Every print publication is required to regularly print a “Statement of Ownership”. One of the statistics listed there is the number free copies they’ve given away verses paid copies. So sending out unpaid copies is something that they all do regularly (just not usually to you).

Because of the economics of their current situation, many newspapers and magazines are happy to get their product in your paws just so they can continue to bill their advertisers a decent rate. They’ve got to put their articles on the Internet for free if they want to remain relevant. But the Internet advertising only makes them a small percentage of what they get from full page of car ads in the dead tree edition. Call up your local paper (or any publication you suspect is suffering a decline in subscribers). Ask to speak to the Circulation Director. Tell him you like his fish-wrapper and you’d read it but finances are tight right now. Odds are he’ll offer you a free or discounted subscription (or a discount on your current subscription). Go to your local magazine rack and collect a few of the subscription postcards from the magazines and send them in. You’ve got nothing to lose and possibly a lot to gain. No Muss, No Fuss, All Wuss! 

-Oogly