This might be rather damning coming from someone who writes for one, but I don’t buy many magazines anymore. And I’m far from alone - it’s no secret that sales are falling (Stuff’s doing just fine, though, don’t you worry).
For me it’s a convenience thing. This modern life has accustomed me to never doing something as old fashioned as going to a shop, and that means I never get to browse a magazine shelf. Knowing how much blood, sweat and argument goes into designing a front cover, I feel a little ashamed to say that I never really get to enjoy them as part of the selection process. One either subscribes to a magazine, or one basically never sees that magazine.
But now I’ve got Readly, the so-called “Spotify for magazines” - a description as lazy and simple as it is accurate. Pay £9.99 a month and you get unlimited access to a newsagent’s worth of titles, and for the first time in years I’m back to browsing at will.
The first binge
In my first couple of minutes I’ve seen some incredible front covers, from the hand-drawn Nazi-stalking troops on the front of Commando, to the head-sized growth protruding from the neck of an understandably miserable looking woman on Chat.
Two hours later I’ve chosen tonight’s tea (massaman roast chicken) from Delicious, found a wine to go with it from Decanter, and just about read the latest issue of VolksWorld Camper and Bus (a magazine I previously had no idea even existed) cover-to-cover. My lazy Sunday mornings just got even lazier and many times more enjoyable.
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Some gaps, but a brilliant offering overall
Not every magazine is accounted for. Big publishers such as Future and Dennis are notably absent, as is Stuff (I’m nagging the Big Cheeses about it), but the overall selection is really strong, from the likes of NME and Now, to Rugby World, Practical Boat Owner and Mountain Bike Rider. Our sister titles What Hi-Fi? Sound and Vision and Autocar are present and correct, too. Back issues are included (how far back varies from mag to mag) and you can even access a whole bunch of mags from the US and Sweden - Jaktmarker ost Fiskevatten, anyone?
You don’t get any of the interactive content of dedicated mag apps such as ours, but the speed of page turns and general navigation, the sharpness of the text and punchiness of the pics all make this a thoroughly pleasant reading experience. You can download issues for offline reading and even share your account across five devices, which seems massively generous for £9.99 a month.
Not convinced? You can try it for free for two weeks by signing up at Readly.com. I'll bet you'll be completely addict mere moments later.
(Disclosure: Haymarket, Stuff’s publisher, has multiple titles on Readly, but that's not why I like it)