things and places for homes and gardens

Some Online Reading

Sunday 8 November 2009 - Filed under Books

I’ve always loved magazines. I used to regularly go down to Rich’s Cigar Store, gather up an armload of garden, home, fashion, work magazines, and head straight home for an afternoon of reading. I come from a family of magazine lovers, it’s not unusual when we get together for stacks of magazines to appear on the table, and everybody starts thumbing through them. In some respects, there’s no substitute for the actual turning of the page, but as the industry changes, and beloved magazines sometimes disappear, I’ve been watching the appearance of print magazines venturing into digital format with interest. I think there are still improvements to be made in order for browsing to be as fun as the print version, but it’s a start.

Google Books

dwell magazine on google books
I’m happy to see Google Books show up with free archives of magazines scanned from cover to cover. The selection is limited right now, but I hope we’ll see more and more favorites showing up on their list. My best find in their inventory so far is Dwell, and the only dedicated gardening magazine is Organic Gardening. I’m on the lookout for new arrivals.

dwell magazine on google books
The two page view is good for looking at the original magazine spread. My only beef with that view, is that you have to click next, next, next to advance the pages.

dwell magazine on google books
The single page view allows you to scroll continuously, which is easier to get through without all the clicking.

Lonny magazine

From some of the folks who worked on the departed Domino magazine, for those of us who’ve never gotten over that loss, Lonny magazine debuted with a fall edition of a new online magazine on October 1. They’re powered by a self publishing platform called Issuu, and while it’s not perfect, it’s the most fun to browse.

Lonny magazine

Screen shot 2009-11-08 at 8.57.58 AM

The one I was going to show until I changed my mind

I also got an offer through work for a free digital subscription to Garden Design magazine, which is a paid online subscription service through a service called Zinio. I’d like to show you what that’s like, but it’s clunky enough I lost my patience with my free subscription. While the other examples are giving you something you can’t get today (magazine archives, or content that’s only available online), I can’t figure out why you’d pay just as much money for a magazine that’s still in print, when trying just to look at it is painful and slow, and just not worth the hassle.

Two out of three though, are worth checking out.

Update: I just heard sad news that we’re losing another magazine, this time Metropolitan home. I sure hope we can count on their archives showing up.

2009-11-08  »  megan

Talkback x 11

  1. tina
    9 November 2009 @ 5:35 am

    This will be a great service once they get the best gardening magazines.

  2. Loree
    9 November 2009 @ 12:44 pm

    You’ve brought up a subject that fills me with dread. I love real paper magazines, Rich’s is a favorite haunt. I have every copy of Dwell going back to #1. I finally tossed my collection of Home and Garden (from the 90′s) when we moved to Portland, but only after I went through and tore out everything I wanted to save. I keep all my Garden Design and Atomic Ranch. Hell I even subscribe to the actual newspaper. I LOVE the information that is readily available on the Internet but it will never replace the paper versions for me. I am old-school and fear the change that is probably unavoidable. Thank you for the links…I will check them out, and I’ll try to keep a positive attitude.

  3. megan
    9 November 2009 @ 2:48 pm

    tina – I agree. More magazines, more magazines!
    Loree – I know, I prefer the paper experience too. On the bright side, when they’re available online, it makes it much easier to reference magazine content on your blog. I figured you for a Dwell fan. If you ever need a digital picture out of the pages, this makes it easy.

  4. Jane
    9 November 2009 @ 5:38 pm

    Met Home folding? Say it isn’t so! I can’t get rid of some magazines, like Atomic Ranch and Sunset. Well, I temper my “getting rid of” Sunset by sending it out the door with my sis. Until we moved I had issues of Pacific Horticulture going back a decade. You’re right Megan, there’s just something different about reading a paper copy…my favorite place: in a hot bath!

  5. linda
    9 November 2009 @ 5:51 pm

    I’m another one for the paper experience. My Husband also have every copy of Dweii. I collect BBC garden Illustrated, (UK )Country Living and since moving here Sunset. Yes-Long live the Mag!

  6. Loree
    10 November 2009 @ 12:18 pm

    Met Home too? No way. I’ve been reading that one since before I could drive.

  7. Karen
    10 November 2009 @ 11:02 pm

    I am a very slow convert to digitization of print media but guess I gave up (mostly) on printed newspapers a while ago, and haven’t bought too many mags recently, so it’s all my fault. I was sad to hear about Gourmet and others but had I actually supported them lately? I fear for books, with the Kindle gaining popularity and Google scanning everything they can get their evil clutches on. Oh, this was a sadly Luddite comment.

  8. Suzanne Newhouse
    15 November 2009 @ 1:25 pm

    Hello Megan,
    Thanks for a very insightful, informative and beautifully documented blog. Please check out the Garden Design site again! I just checked it out because of your great site and I found it to be smooth and user friendly and one of the more readable sites for online use. Some of the others were very difficult to literally read.

  9. Suzanne
    15 November 2009 @ 1:28 pm

    Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that what I saw was not a subscription site. It was free with access to a good blog with good links.


  10. megan
    15 November 2009 @ 1:43 pm

    Jane – Yes, Met Home was such a good one. I was just enjoying the last issue today.
    Linda – Sadly it seems paper is disappearing. I hope they figure out a way to stop shuttering such good stuff.
    Loree – Me too. Sniff.
    Karen – I have hope that technology will some day help us keep magazines in business, and make it fun to read. But no, we’re not there yet.
    Hi Suzanne – You’re right, I should make the distinction. The Garden Design site itself isn’t a problem, and has good editors and bloggers contributing worthwhile content. The one I meant was a page flippy scanned copy of the magazine, which was totally different. And yes, the scanned in copies of print magazines can be difficult to read, since the typefaces are designed for easier print reading, not reading on screen. Thanks for pointing out the difference, I wouldn’t want to suggest the Garden Design site itself had usability issues.

  11. ricki - sprig to twig
    19 November 2009 @ 2:46 pm

    blogging and computers have expanded my world (here i am, after all) but where would i be without my clip files of ideas, and what can compare to curling up before a fire with the latest issue of BBC Gardens Illustrated? Please…everyone…go out and buy it so it won’t go extinct!