Linux Journal Goes 100% Digital

Introducing Linux Journal 2.0

We're going all-digital. That's the news. Starting with our next issue, #209, we're going off-rack and off-mailbox, but staying on-email and on-Web, where we can grow and improve. It's the only path open to us, but it's also a good one. Hang with me as I explain why. (See also Experience the New Linux Journal for details about the new format.)

Linux Journal was the brainchild of Phil Hughes in 1993. That's when he got it in his head that a free software magazine would be a good idea, and pulled together an email list of friends—including me—to talk about it. Then one day, out of the blue, Phil halted the proceedings and announced that he now saw The Future, and it was Linux.

At the time, Linux was invisible in the trade press. None of the magazines put out by the big three computer-industry publishers--Ziff-Davis, IDG and CMP--paid any attention to it. All their eyes were on name-brand computer and network companies, plus startups in spaces those companies (all of which were advertisers) defined. UNIX was still a war between variants sold by Novell, Silicon Graphics, IBM, Sun and others, plus the BSDs. Linux was at version 0.x, and of relatively little interest outside the kernel mailing list.

Phil saw UNIX for the mess it was, and he knew how Linux was going to solve it. So, when Linux 1.0 was released in March 1994, Linux Journal promptly followed. During the 17+ years since, Linux has proven Phil right, and it is now the standard operating system for everything from picture frames to set-top boxes, plus most of the Web. (Fun fact: even Microsoft's Bing search engine is mostly hosted on Linux, through Akamai.)

But while Linux continues to win at operating systems, print magazines are losing to other media—especially digital—and have been for a long time. In fact, lately it's been getting worse.

Just this month, ABC reported that newsstand magazine sales fell 9% in the first six months of this year. The Wall Street Journal reported a drop of 9.2% for consumer magazines, with double-digit drops for celebrity weeklies like People and Star. Women's Wear Daily reported similar drops for all but one fashion magazine: Vogue, thanks to one Lady Gaga cover.

The big computer-industry trade magazines from the '90s have either disappeared or gone digital. Of the big three publishers, only IDG is still intact, and still putting out most of its original magazines in print.

We survived while others failed by getting lean and staying focused. But the costs of printing and distributing continue to go up. We could keep publishing in print if we could raise the number of advertiser pages, but we don't see that happening.

What we do see is a core readership that has stuck with us, along with Linux, for a generation. You, our readers, are at the heart of Linux, and always have been. We want to keep that heart beating.

That heart will beat with much more strength if the blood flows entirely through bits and pixels. It also will be better aligned with the world we helped create. (We were online and helping ISPs grow even before the first graphical browsers showed up.) The opportunities online are as wide as the digital horizons. And we won't be confined by the physical and cost limits of paper and ink.

Those limits include space. We can name many examples of articles, columns and regular features that have been cut to fit the limited spaces of our print pages. We also can name many examples of digital pieces that have been very successful, outside the confines of print. Working in two media has always pulled us in different directions. Now we can move forward in the winning direction, without the drag.

But we can't do it if you're not with us. For that we need two things.

The first is for you to keep subscribing. Our first all-digital edition of Linux Journal--#209--will go out on schedule, directly to all print subscribers. It will be the same magazine it always has been. It also will be searchable, interactive, printable and, therefore, also green (a small bonus, but one we do care about).

The second is to get your input and participation in making Linux Journal the magazine you want it to be. We are setting a forum for conversation with subscribers, plus a forum for  conversation with non-paying readers. I also invite you to write us directly at For more help, visit our FAQ.

Linux Journal is your magazine. You're the ones who pay for it, and you're the ones whose help we need and appreciate the most. Linux always has been a construction project, and the same is true for this magazine. Please help us keep building it in ways that work best for you—and for everybody out in user space too.

See also:



Doc Searls is the Editor in Chief of Linux Journal


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Anonymous's picture

Thanks for the info. I think it's a bit sad to cancel the print before you have the digital version really up and running. But I can understand there can be hard business decisions... I'm sure many of your readers will have tablets or ebook readers. If you stop print, I'm sure they'll expect other comfortable ways to get their content. I really prefer a Linux magazine on ebook reader over print, but only there. Reading a PDF on my computer has no specially relaxed, enjoyable feeling I'm willing to pay for at all.

selling out

tankenator's picture

I have been a sporadic subscriber and newstand purchaser of Linux Journal for going on ten years,
with a stack of magazines in storage to show proof.
having recieved my current subscription as a gift I
dont feel as cheated, but I have one thing to say to
you about this unannounced and ignorant move-- Fuck
you and your online only deal. You continue to charge
for the issues and subscription, yet fill your
magazine with ads from microsoft and other unsavory
people to sell my eyes and reading to them, and now
have no overhead of printing and distribution. At the
least you would have the decency to make the issues
freely available via bittorrent or other p2p, but to
charge a subscription for a steaming pile of
advertising shit is beyond the pale.

You can count me as a former reader and subscriber,
and i will never (obviouly now) buy another issue of
your magazine at a newsstand.

This is obviously an

Tuxly_Tuxford_McTuxtington's picture

This is obviously an emotional time for people who have taken the Linux/Microsoft thing to a religious level (most people in this forum don't see the need to resort to obscenities, as they realize that it's just a magazine). But journalists need to get paid, and sometimes advertisements alone are not enough to pay the bills.

Stay classy.

outsource printing?

eMBee's picture

i don't know how much the pure cost of printing is and how much other costs you have (delivery to newsstands, sending to subscribers etc) but have you considered finding cheaper places to print?

here in china books and magazines cost about a 5th or even less than compared to the US, and i can imagine that getting the printing done here could cut quite some cost.

greetings, eMBee.

Kudos (but I'll have to see if/how it works for me)

u.hertlein's picture

Hi guys,

kudos on the decision. I was almost ready to not renew my subscription, due to lack of suitable subjects covered but also due to the stack of magazines that's piling up and that I never find the heart to throw out.

But I'll still have to see how/if it works for me to read it on the computer.

Cheers from Berlin,

Kudos (but I'll have to see if/how it works for me)

u.hertlein's picture

Hi guys,

kudos on the decision. I was almost ready to not renew my subscription, due to lack of suitable subjects covered but also due to the stack of magazines that's piling up and that I never find the heart to throw out.

But I'll still have to see how/if it works for me to read it on the computer.

Cheers from Berlin,

oddly enough

ebenezer's picture

you characters just got another subscriber (yours truly, to be specific).

so there, Anonymous and the rest of you. :)

And another, at that. Really

zak89's picture

And another, at that.

Really looking forward to the ePub. Like, really really! Any possibility of a Kindle subscription, as well?

vast disappointment

crimsdings's picture

there is a reason i subscribed for the printed version and i´m not interested in the pdf/dibgital version what so ever

i don´t read magazines on a pc screen, or on my android phone there are better solutions to get information on the web.

sorry to say that but you lost another customer

Dropping print

Steve Johnson's picture

I may be the odd duck among LJ readers in that I have had the print + digital edition for the past several years. I quickly read through the digital when it arrives, reading some articles in toto, but skimming most of the content. I read more thoroughly when the print arrives.
Will I miss the print? Indeed. Will I continue to subscribe and change my reading habits? Yes.
And I would be happy to see LJ in ePub as an additional format. I have only read novels in ePub format, so do not know how well ePub would work for a magazine such as LJ. If LJ can afford an additional format--give it a try.

Cost of ebook formats: zero

carlfink's picture

Yeah, that cost of um, installing some Open Source conversion software on their servers once, would be a deal-breaker.

How many LJ readers would happily volunteer to do it free? Thousands?

Re: Cost of ebook formats: zero

Hans-Georg Eßer's picture

@carlfink: That's not so simple. If there was an easy way to convert PDFs into epub (or another html or xml type format), everyone would already be doing it. Magazines (and the PDFs) are typically created by DTP programs like InDesign or Xpress, and they just don't have useful export options. Basically, if you want to have epub, you have to produce the article twice: once for the PDF, once for the epub. That's why (for many magazines) html articles on the website are slightly different from the ones in the printed edition (or PDF).

Conversion to ebook formats

carlfink's picture

There are very simple, free ways to convert PDF to ebook formats. Notably, Calibre is totally free (libre and beer).

Note that I don't really care about epub per se, since my own ebook reader only handles .mobi/.prc files. However, I could convert to .mobi using Calibre if I must.

Conversion to ebook formats

Hans-Georg Eßer's picture

Have you ever tried that with a complex PDF file? Take the current LJ issue for example and convert it to epub or mobi... The result is completely useless. No other tool will work automatically either, because the tools don't understand the flow of text through the columns. Just because a program has a "convert to xyz" option, it doesn't mean that it is useful. It does only work with very simple one-column PDF files (the kind of document where pdftotext will give you good results, too).

Conversion to ebook formats

carlfink's picture

There is no reason to have a "complex PDF file" now that there is no paper edition. Stop wasting your staff's time on layout that will never be printed and just create a simple one-column layout, which is better for the reader.

...speakng only for yourself

John_Buehrer's picture

will never be printed

What a crock. Just because you've convinced yourself about your own habits doesn't mean others have the same workflow. It's vital that such assumptions are not put into practice.

no consumer choice - that suxx

John_Buehrer's picture

Sad for the demise of the print version, and there are subtle benefits of print like markup when collaborating with others.

The appropriate way forward would be to ASK your readers about new scenario and hopefully give them a choice. I would pay extra for print, and will probably not getting around to reading the e-version after a day in front of a screen.

What's appropriate

Doc Searls's picture

Maybe we should have given readers a choice, and have done the public radio thing of telling everybody that we could keep the print edition going if they came up with $X amount every month. But, given the increasing costs, and the movement of advertisers from print to digital, we would have had to ask subscribers to pay a lot more than they already do, just to keep the print edition going.

The tough fact is that keeping a print magazine going is expensive. This is a smaller problem for, say, the fashion, celebrity, and bridal magazines, but even they are feeling the heat lately (as we see in the three stories I cite above). For trade pubs like ours, it's really really tough. Frankly I think it's amazing that we've been able to keep going for as long as we have, with so many other trade pubs falling by the wayside. "Austerity" doesn't cover the lengths we've gone to, while continuing to put out a magazine that has kept up, and even improved, its overall editorial quality.

Linux is also a digital thing. If any magazine has a reason to be all-digital, it's one covering the biggest thing in digital.

Think too about what our advertisers have been going through. Most of them are hardware companies. This week HP, the biggest name in PC hardware — the one selling more than anybody — hung a "going out of business, everything must go" sign on their whole division, and their largest source of revenue. That has an enormous chilling effect on the whole hardware ecosystem, even if others are not dependent on HP or competing against them.

Our sales side has a finger on the pulse of the industry, and what we sense lately is equally encouraging for Linux (and for the Linux-based Android, in mobile) and discouraging for the old mainstay hardware business. This too argues for aligning with a marketplace where the digital future is wide open in digital and closing in print.

Maybe, in the fullness of time, the costs of printing and postage will come down, and advertisers will return to print, but there are no signs of that happening in the near future, or in the future at all. Print, for magazines and even newspapers, is becoming what vinyl is to records: a special exception, rather than the standard format. It's not there yet, but it's headed that way.

So we hope you'll forgive our manners under the circumstances and give us a chance to grow where we can.

Doc Searls is the Editor in Chief of Linux Journal

You could always switch to a

Anonymous's picture

You could always switch to a "Print on Demand" service so people can still get print copies. Even the aforementioned HP offers such a service[1], and I'm sure there are lots of others.

Basically, just upload the PDF (or other graphics file) you guys already have for the digital edition, and let another company take care of printing, getting the mags delivered and collecting the money for you. All of the costs of the printing get passed on to the print customers and you can still tack on your markup so you make money without even caring about advertising. Even if the issues ended up costing $20/each and no one ordered them, you risk very little to try it, especially compared to what you risk if you don't.

It doesn't have to be a binary choice of print or no print, there are other options.



Appropriate irony

John_Buehrer's picture

The irony is, you (Doc Searls) are largely correct about Linux being well established in the IT industry, including financial institutions which have and define a good chunk of the world's money. But then you speak of your magazine like it's a "Food Stamps Illustrated" publication whose charity has been downsized.

Since you claim the magazine is for readers, maybe you could do a bit more diligence and see who is willing to pay, and how much, for printed editions. Not all of us are homeless hackers, there are more than a few professionals among us willing to pay for Linux information, and an additional premium for this more-convenient format. Let's see some numbers.

If you cater only to the austerity market, maybe you end up with only a few subscribers but much sharing of your PDF journals. Please don't neglect other market segments of readers who know the value of paying for this stuff and have allocated budgets to do so. Maybe after a year or so of a mixed model we find out differently, but I have the impression you're making some half-warranted assumptions here.

I'm disappointed but I understand

marcozie's picture

I must admit I'm disappointed in 100% digital. I guess I'm old but I prefer something tactile. in-print magazines do seem to be dropping like flies so I believe you guys when you say costs are going up.

I've had a subscription on and off for several years and when I didn't have a subscription I tried to buy from the newsstand; I feel it's important to support financially.

ereaders are ok but a distant 2nd behind real books. I I have a kindle (I preferred Sony's ereader; it handles epubs better and is more open but Sony's attitude lately has peeved me off.). I don't like reading on an iPad. They're too glossy and tire my eyes out much faster than ebooks or real books. [Extra info for your sales folks there.]

I do believe it's important to have Linux magazines so I am not cancelling my subscription.

Had this happened 4(?) years ago, I would have bailed. THat was when the new editor came on and the quality of the magazine tanked. I am happy that the editor finally got his footing and the quality went back up, so I'll hang around for a while to see how the digital version is.

Electronic Version of LJ

Seth Knox's picture

I've purchased copies of LJ from my local news stand for quite a while, but I also read a lot online. I don't mind the switch, and I'll probably subscribe to LJ in the future. However, it would be convenient to read LJ on my mobile devices--esp. my Kindle and Android phone. To have LJ in a format optimized for such devices would be a strong selling point for readers like me.

Lighten up, guys

Alex S's picture

Reading on a computer screen can be a drag, but a proper device like a Kindle offers a really good experience. I prefer it.

I don't subscribe to Linux Journal. I do buy copies on the newsstand three or four times a year. I buy other Linux magazines as well. I'd almost certainly subscribe to a Kindle edition of Linux Journal.

I read every issue of the New York Review of Books on my Kindle, cover to cover. It's a great experience, better than paper. I can crank up the size of the type, it doesn't come out of the mailbox slightly shredded, etc.

And you don't have to pay for the year's subscription up front -- you pay as each issue comes out, so you can start or stop when you want. This is a feature a lot of you guys, the ones saying, "I'm canceling!", should be able to appreciate. You can quit in a huff whenever you want.

I don't get a lot of the comments here. I buy Linux magazines on the newsstand, and I can confirm that they're becoming harder and harder to find. Linux Journal has the best distribution, but things are obviously getting more difficult. Do people think they're happy about being pushed out of print? Or that economic reality will change if you complain loudly enough?

I hope that LJ makes the transition to all digital smoothly.

And as a side note, I'd like to suggest that LJ take a look at the way the Pragmatic Bookshelf people handle digital editions. They do a very good job.

File formats

carlfink's picture

I will miss the paper LJ. I enjoyed writing for it and reading it.

However, I cannot read the current digital format. It's clearly laid out to be a magazine, a folio, and doesn't work on computer screens. Make it a .mobi file and I will continue to read it.

Some magazines have been saved by ebook formats--both Analog and Asimov's Science Fiction have had gross revenue increases, to name two. Stick to PDF and you, frankly, will not. Stick to an unreadable magazine layout and you will not.

No custom apps for me, either. Use an open file format that I can then read using whatever application I want. Surely the editors of LJ understand that I don't need them picking my programs for me?

Will Adjust

jmmc's picture

Long time reader/subscriber since about '98 here.

Sure, I did enjoy getting that new copy of LJ in the mail (although like one of the other posters mentioned, sometimes the copies were rather 'savaged' during the trip ;). For note, I only ever kept a two year backlog of print issues. In this day and age, is the information from a 2002 copy of LJ really necessary to have/keep in print form? I do remember keeping copies of OMNI for quite a while after the 80's, but eventually I scanned the few great short fiction stories I wanted and got rid of the paper. For me, like old copies of Byte and Dr Dobbs, it seemed like a print magazine older than 5 years had maybe 10 pages or less of copy that I actually wanted to keep (scan). Could we agree the 'half-life' of a lot of Linux info (and computing related info in general) is rather short? Then, I think LJ going to digital makes sense. I'd rather see that than a wholesale fold altogether (which was what publications did before the web, no?)

I also argue against the 'if we just all paid a little bit more' assertion. I don't think it's appreciated how much more that 'little bit' needs to be. How much more would you really feel is justified to keep print going? $5?, $10? And for how long? What if LJ had to increase subs $5/yr for the next 5 years to keep up with costs - would you stick around when subs got to $60/yr?, $70/yr?

Doc is right, the 'dead tree' era is passed. We need to move on. If you still need your LJ in the commode (and fear dropping your EReader in the bowl-lol) print on your own paper, using your own ink and have at it. Personally, Rueven's (web dev), Dave T.'s (shell) as well as Mick's (security) columns were/are well worth $30/yr to me, even if in digital only format. Not to mention Doc's end page, which is always the first thing I read in the new issue anyway!

As for the abrupt announcement, short notice, yada...well, what's that about 'easier to ask forgiveness than for permission...'? - there are huge problems facing this country and world, LJ going digital on short notice is hardly something to get too upset about, imho.

Keep up the good content LJ, I'll continue my sub.

Not Good

Anonymous's picture

This is unfortunate, and in my mind, poorly executed. It goes a long way in demonstrating the true value of LJ readers to the publisher.

While some media is _reasonable_ online, I spend my day in front of a display. Someone explain to me why I'd want to perpetuate and even favor this?

For the record, I have subscriptions to IEEE, EE Times, MIT Technology Review, Wired, and quite a few other magazines. In ALL cases, they offer/ed digital editions. Guess how many times I reached for the digital edition over the printed copy? 0% of the time.

Good luck going forward.

I don't think you realize the situation

corfy's picture

I've read a lot of comments on this thread about how they would be willing to pay a little extra for their subscription to keep the printed product. I don't think these people realize the economics of the situation.

To be fair, I know nothing specifically about Linux Journal or it's operations. However, I do work in the industry (specifically, at a smalltown newspaper), and I have a different perspective on this than most of you.

First off, let me say that the $29.99 paid for a year subscription to Linux Journal probably doesn't even cover the material costs of the ink and paper plus the cost of postage.

The people writing the content (which, if you ask me, is where the real value in the publication lies), the people selling the ads, the people putting the content and the ads into the proper format, the people who handle subscriptions, the computers they all work on, the people who actually print the magazine (or newspaper) and the machinery they work with all, along with the building(s) and utilities and taxes etc. all get paid for by advertising, not subscriptions or single copy sales. Granted, the subscriptions and single copy sales effect how much the publication can charge for advertising. The more readers, the higher advertising rate they can charge.

But for the last four years or so, the economy has been going into the toilet, which I hope does not come as a surprise to anyone reading this. When that happens, one of the first places many businesses cut back is advertising.

This is why newspapers and magazines are in trouble. Revenue is down, and down considerably. This is why so many in the industry are looking for ways to tighten their belts, which has sometimes led to some drastic (but probably necessary) actions.

I'm sure if my publisher thought he could get away with only producing a digital copy of the paper, he would do it in a heartbeat, but I know many of our readers simply are not technical enough to handle that.

Yeah, you could go online and read “Joe's Blog” about Linux for free, but what do you really know about “Joe” and how much experience and knowledge he has? Personally, the writers at Linux Journal have proven to me that they generally know what they are talking about, and I'm willing to pay to continue to get that high quality content, even if it doesn't come on a printed page.

Don't get me wrong. I'm as disappointed as anyone that Linux Journal is no longer printing physical copies. I have a stack of “dead tree” magazines dating back nearly 30 years that I have collected (I hate throwing away a magazine), and wish I could continue to add more physical copies. But the value in Linux Journal, or any good publication, is in the content, not the media. If you feel otherwise, then have fun reading “Joe's Blog.”

Laugh at life or life will laugh at you.

I do agree

J0Y's picture

Really, I do agree. In my previous comment, about printing and archaeology I talked about this we are living as a Dark Age, as for it will be recorded by future historians.

What you picture is the other side of the story: historians will be asking themselves "Why oh why did they stop writing? Is it that they were illiterate all of sudden? Did their preferred medium underwent some kind of outage? Were their secondary media something so evanescent they got lost?". Someone will come up with this theory probably: "their society model was collapsing, they didn't have resources to print on paper and they went 100% digital, using those primitive spinning things, now unreadable". He will probably be targeted by the mocking of the academic community that thinks the CDs are coasters for beer glasses, since no evidence they encoded informations is to be found in the future. :P
Not so different from all the current debates about the Greek Dark Ages (ca. 1200 BC–800 BC).

The current economy is simply collapsing, an alternative to financial model will be found, humanity will undergo lots of troubles in the transition. We will adapt and a golden age will follow the dark age. And there we go again.

Sorry folks, but it looks like one of the troubles, a minor one, is that paper is going to die, at least for magazines, maybe the books are next, maybe not. I'm one of the saddest persons about this. I have a library of something like 4-5k books in my house and an undetermined number of issues from various magazines, all collected by some generations of my family. The beauty of dead trees is something i always took for granted but also as almost sacred and unquestioned. So it is for their supremacy over other analog or digital media.
How to monetize the new "immaterial magazines" and how to make people following the "Random Joe's Blog is free and is the same as LJ"-concept accept that they have to pay for something not made of atoms will be a big problem. Or maybe this is the first step in realizing that we shouldn't monetize stuff at all instead, like the society pictured in Star Trek, who knows. And for now, who cares? What is sure for now is that there is no money to print magazines that are not mainstream. That's all. The alternatives? Converting the subscription to something like $59 maybe? And if $59 is not enough next year? do we go up to $100? Or no LJ at all instead of a 100% digital LJ is better? Come on.

As for the Joe's Blog, there is also another thing i want to point out, and i think, since you are in this industry, you will perfectly understand what i mean. These people at LJ are professionals, sure. But are they just Linux/IT professionals? Sure they are! It is not just that. There are a lot of pros that could setup a Wordpress site in 1.4 minutes and start writing stuff. But how many of those are both professional journalists/writers and Linux/IT professionals at the same time? What about the quality of their writing?

Think now of LJ staff: they are journalists and writers. Sure nobody is born as such, but they learned from other journalists and writers. There is an added value in this. Journalists and writers always had the implicit and heavy burden to be used as a reference for the masses, but i'm not referring to the opinion of the masses. I'm referring to the role journalists had in teaching people to speak and write correctly in their language, to make them learn the jargon, the scientific/logical way of thinking and such.

Without this kind of help Joe's blog would be written in even worse language, with less precise documentation and reference, without the Five Ws Rule in mind, for example. Where does Joe learn how to write and article if only other Joes are available to learn from?

I think my english is barely acceptable (it is not my native language), but i guarantee it would have been worse if i lived reading only all the Joes' Blogs out there instead of LJ.

I think the same is for my native tongue: even if i'm not a professional writer nor a journalist, i think i've learned a lot just by reading writing and articles made by professionals, as opposed to the Random Joes out there.

Well put

Doc Searls's picture

These are excellent comments, JOY, and we appreciate them.

The economy isn't our topic, but nothing I see (and I cover more than Linux) tells me the economy is going to get better in the short term. Media especially are going through a huge upheaval. One long piece I've been writing for LJ (and have tabled for awhile, because it's really big) is about the rapid crash that's happening with what used to be television. In the U.S. it has already gone all-digital, but it continues to emulate its old analog form on cable and over the air. It's going to strip the gears of mobile data distribution, and the carriers are panicking and doing their best to stuff the Internet inside the old pre-1984 Bell bottle. And their friends in government are helping with that. (As I understand it, there is actually a serious proposal at the FCC to make the likes of Skype fake up phone numbers for calls, so they can be "correctly" billed when passing through phone company pipes, even when the carriage is on the Net and not the switched phone circuits.)

I could go on about that, but I'd rather mention something else. I also have a "Joe's blog" (here) -- one of the first, running since 1999. As blogs go, it's pretty good; but the discipline and care I take in writing it are not the same as what I give to the 900 words or so that I put every month in Linux Journal. (Or the monthly thousands of words I put into my "Linux For Suits" column, back when the magazine was big enough to have room for it.) So I thank you for bringing that issue up, and for the rest of your help and support.

Doc Searls is the Editor in Chief of Linux Journal

The Situation

Doc Searls's picture

Thanks, corfy. You nail it well, and we really appreciate your weighing in on this. It helps when people who know the business help by speaking frankly and knowingly about it.

For what it's worth, I've lately taken to reading our own household subscriptions more and more on our laptops and other mobile devices. The New Yorker, the Boston Globe and Consumer Reports are three that come to mind. While I love the physical copies -- of the New Yorker especially -- it's actually easier in some ways to read on a screen. As an old print guy I didn't think I'd ever say that, but here I am.

It's still early. No two magazines are taking exactly the same approach, because the tech is changing too fast, and every pub's readership and editorial is different. But on the whole the industry is struggling through it. We kept the print ship afloat as long as we could. Maybe without it, we can do a better job. I'm encouraged by the possibilities, and especially by the support we're hearing from readers and subscribers who are sticking with us.

Doc Searls is the Editor in Chief of Linux Journal

converting PDF to ePub

Brian Greiner's picture

I tried converting the sample PDF issue to ePub format using the Calibre program. Alas, the conversion chopped up the various advertisements, and that rendered the resulting conversion not very useful.

Lose the PDF version in favour of an ePub version, which is more generally useful. Oh, and convert to a landscape format rather than portrait.

For sure - ePub is best

SheamusPatt's picture

I agree completely that ePub is a better format (though it can't be difficult to provide a choice, rather than ditching PDF). For an eBook reader, ePub has the advantage that it's scalable so you can view it in a font size that works without having to scroll left and right to see it all. At least, that's how things work on my Kobo reader.

Jim Patterson
Ottawa, Ontario

I like the move to digital only

Anonymous's picture

I do like the print version, and I've never read the digital version, though. However, I can see that this can save LJ quite a bit and keep it running. I will adapt away from the print version. I started with Windows and adapted away from that.

Will you guys be coming to

Anonymous's picture

Will you guys be coming to Zinio? I don't want to have to subscribe to each e-magazine separately. Zinio makes it convenient.

mobile platform poll

JeffD's picture

regarding the mobile device platform poll, there is no choice for "none".
That's right, I don't have a "mobile device" unless my
work issued Vista laptop counts (it doesn't in my mind).

My thought exactly. I was

Anonymous's picture

My thought exactly. I was going to answer the poll until I noticed my mobile device (None) wasn't listed. Unless you count a $5 basic Nokia flip-phone with no internet access a mobile device (I don't).

Well... I still cannot figure out how much i do not like it.

J0Y's picture

I do not like this, for sure.
Do I dislike this so much I won't be renewing my subscription or so much I will even cancel my current one?
I don't know. If you asked me just an year ago I would have told you I would cancel the subscription ASAP.

But now... I do not like this, for sure. But, for sure, I understand.

I love my collection of magazines, dead trees will survive (pun intended) to every bit of information we are currently storing on our computers, even in the cloud.

The first backup cd I burned more than a decade ago is unreadable now. The first paper issue of LJ is still readable.

There is lesser and lesser room for printed items, someone in the cloud decided.

Our Era will not be recorded for our descendents to read, since the media we use are so easy to delete that often delete themselves. This happened already. Sometimes humans forget how to write, sometimes make bad decisions when it comes to media... I can recall at least two examples of this kind of "failures" from the ancient history lessons.

Sure our descendants will remember the Age we are entering as a Dark Age, due to the lack of writings we will leave behind.

I will adapt to this changing world, probably. The lack of paper issues of LJ will be a big problem for future archaeologists, but for me it is just a sad thing.


Doc Searls's picture

This is a Serious Issue, and one big reason why we wish we could keep printing. Without print (and other physical media, like stone tablets and clay tokens — or paintings of cave walls), we wouldn't have history.

Back in the late '70s, when I lived in Chapel Hill, NC., the university library decided to recycle all of their bound volumes of the New York Times, going back many decades. From now on, they would use a new medium called microfilm. Today if you go back and digitize microfilm, you get pure monochrome. All the color, all the shading, everything other than the printed text, look like blobs. And that's if they're digitized at all. Meanwhile, microfilm is obsolete.

Some friends of mine rescued all the issues, and gradually dispersed them to interested parties. I still have three in a storage shed in Burlington, NC.

My point: you're right. Print matters.

For what it's worth, I plan to print my issues out and save those. LJ might not be printing them, but I will. I doubt that will help historians, but it's worth a shot.

Doc Searls is the Editor in Chief of Linux Journal


Chad McCullough's picture

I think this is wonderful news! My print version was constantly being damaged by the postal service, anyway. Haha!

Seriously, though, moving to an all digital version is the future of "print". So many magazines and newspapers are going out of business because it just isn't cost effective to keep print going. And on top of that, it's horrible for the environment. For all the people who are upset by this move, would you rather see LJ disappear? I, for one, would not.

All in all, great move going all digital. I look forward to seeing what you all do with this. :-)

You Are Making a Mistake.

Robert Call's picture

I have been reading your publication for about 2.5 years. I do not like e-books
and prefer to hold the actual text in my hand. Taking this experience away is
essentially giving readers like me the finger. If you go forward with what
you propose, I will not read your publication anymore. There are other
places where I can get out of date news about GNU/Linux.

I'm fine with it

davidrsmithson's picture

All of you complainers are really rubbing me the wrong way. Looking for a discount because it's digital? Give me a break. If you think it should cost less because it's not printed on paper, you are sadly ignorant. Support your magazine and its employees and stop whining.


David Smithson


I guess I'm sadly ignorant

Anonymous's picture

I guess I'm sadly ignorant then, as is Linux Journal, who no doubt made this decision because it's less costly to publish digitally. Actually, to think otherwise is complete insanity.

As for the whining part, consider this:

I order a subscription to some fruit of the month club, each month I will get mailed to me a different piece of fruit to eat. Then, mid-subscription, the company providing the fruit starts just emailing me pictures of the fruit, so that I can no long eat it, or hold it, all I can do is look at it on desktop computer screen.

Whether you prefer digital over paper, or whether it's cheaper or more environmentally friendly is the not the biggest issue here, it's that people pre-paid for a product and the company responsible for providing the product is not going to follow through with the sale. What's worse, is they've provided no warning and no information on reimbursement for the goods not provided. This is unethical at best, and possibly even illegal.


You Have the Option to Print Your Fruit

Roy's picture

Using your analogy, you can print your fruit at home, you could even print multiple copies of your fruit.

less costly, bad metaphors, and so on

davidrsmithson's picture

Of course they made the decision because it's less costly. That does not mean that somebody at LJ is laughing all the way to the bank. More than likely the decision was made because there aint enough money to go around. Can you imagine that?

Your metaphor about fruit just does not work for me. You will still get to READ Linux Journal. As jerryf said, "it's all about the content". Whether I can touch it or smell the fresh ink on the pages is really not important to me, and it is not what Linux Journal is selling either. Sorry, but, bad metaphor.

Regarding legality of the situation, I'm sure LJ has explored that (at least one would hope).


I didn't mean to imply that

Anonymous's picture

I didn't mean to imply that LJ was trying to screw people (in-fact I never did) or do anything shady (on purpose), I understand there are probably financial reasons why this must happen and I'm sure no one there is rolling around in piles of money laughing at us.

While my "fruit of the month" analogy isn't great, it is valid. When I subscribed to LJ, it was specifically because this magazine came in a printed physical format. I never would've in a million years subscribed if it was digital-only. In fact, I was offered the digital edition as well when I subscribed, but I specifically declined that option. I paid for a piece of dead tree with Linux information printed on it, put into my physical mailbox every month.

I understand it's not an important switch to you, you probably have some type of mobile device or e-reader or whatever, and don't mind reading the magazine on it. But do understand that not everyone is you, and lots of people, for lots of reasons, would prefer to have the non-electronic, physical product that they paid for.

Regarding legality, I would hope LJ has explored it. Though I don't think it'll be much of an issue either way as long as they refund people's money for goods not provided, which I'm sure they will.

see your point

davidrsmithson's picture

Ok, anonymous guy, I see your point. I hope they have the means to refund. Sounds like their might be quite a few people wanting a portion back.



Chad McCullough's picture

Completely agree!

It's all about the content

jerryf's picture

Thanks to the staff at LJ for continuing to evolve as necessary to provide us with the high quality content we've come to expect.

Print, digital - makes no difference to me. Whatever it takes to keep providing my monthly fix.

How about an Android app similar to that offered by The Economist?

Keep up the good work.

LJ Change

Tim's picture

Very sorry to hear this. As a long time subscriber it is a sad day for LJ. The Brit mags must be eating their lunch! I just sub'ed to Linux Format last week for 4 times the price and I get both.

I notice no rate change. Since no paper or postage it should half the price.

A sad day.



dude's picture

This change makes me sad. I guess I won't cancel right away.

Also that pop-over ad (on this page) from Intel is very bothersome... I hope that's not an indication of what the digital version will be like.

By the way, I always read the ads in the print version.
(Including the one for leather knits or whatever it was.)