Response to Shawn Powers

This is a response I left for Shawn Powers on his blog post (http://www.brainofshawn.com/2011/08/19/linux-journal-it-bytes-to-go-to-b...):

Shawn,

I've been a Linux Journal reader for many years, it's the only magazine I've subscribed to for years and I read it cover-to-cover every month. I took it to LUG meetings and convinced others it was a worthwhile investment of their time and money. I got in the habit of folding down the corners of pages that mentioned interesting software or other references so that the next time I was at my computer I could look up those references.

You seem surprised by the amount of negative feedback or perhaps by the vehemence of that negative feedback. Though I can only speak for myself I feel fairly confident the reason for my strong negative reaction is shared by many, many other readers: we too love Linux Journal – we're angry that we're losing something we enjoy and looked forward to every month.

I think the way this switch to a digital only format was handled is also a significant cause of anger among subscribers. We had no inkling that something like this was about to happen. It was as if we went to a nice restaurant, ordered sirloin steaks and baked potatoes and then the waiter brought us peanut butter and jelly sandwiches instead with the explanation that the restaurant made the decision to only serve PB&J's shortly after we placed our order for steaks.

For many of us an electronic version is simply not a viable option. Like the majority of tech folks I spend entirely too much time behind a monitor. I have a wife, two daughters and an infant son whom I prefer to spend time with. Having a physical magazine allowed me to leave this computer to spend time with my family and also enjoy the fruits of your (and everyone else at LJ) labor. I don't have any kind of portable reader and based on my research the digital publishing world still hasn't figured out a viable business model (some publishers simply don't offer their wares in digital format while others price e-books at the same or even higher price than their hardback versions – and don't get me started on all that DRM stuff...).

I appreciate the time and effort everyone at Linux Journal has put into the magazine, there are only a handful of magazines I've ever considered to have consistently high enough quality to be worthy of subscribing. I hope that LJ survives this transition. Perhaps some day in the future when I feel like e-readers and the digital publishing industry have matured I'll subscribe to Linux Journal once again, until then though – here is where we part ways.

Yes

Shawn Powers's picture

What Katherine said. Also, this is a bit like debating the best way to kick a puppy. There's just no good way. (I'd write more, but I'm on my phone.)

Shawn Powers is an Associate Editor for Linux Journal. You might find him chatting on the IRC channel, or Twitter

As I posted elsewhere:

Webmistress's picture

As I posted elsewhere:

Something in Shawn's blog post has been widely misinterpreted. When he wrote that the transition is something he's "known was coming for a while now." He was not describing any actual plans for Linux Journal to go digital. I believe he meant his own feelings about industry-wide trends. Lots of magazines stop printing, and I am sure he thought for some time that it might eventually happen to us. I can understand why it is easily misinterpreted though.

Katherine Druckman is webmistress at LinuxJournal.com. You might find her on Twitter or at the Southwest Drupal Summit

I'm not too sure I buy that

ryan.braun's picture

I'm not too sure I buy that WM, according to Doc Searls From the Editor Column, he know about the change on the 1st of August. And who knows how long before that.

Sounds an awfully like spin right now on LJ's part not realizing how many subs would be pissed.

For the life of me, I don't understand why AT THE VERY LEAST we don't have an apology from LJ about the whole way this was handled. It feels very amateur to be perfectly honest.

August issue in digital format (07/28)

rinux's picture

Difficult to think that someone did not know ... on 28/07/11 02:00 I have received this message that I did not realize at the time and still have received the hard copy:

"Dear Arturo ,

It has been brought to our attention that an increased number of subscribers may have experienced delays in receiving their copy of the August issue of Linux Journal, or may not have received them at all.

While we are unfortunately unable to offer replacement of these print copies, we are sending you the August issue in digital format. As a valued customer we do not want you to miss a single issue. In addition to this, your subscription term will be extended by 1 additional issue.

To download the August issue, please click here: http://download.linuxjournal.com/xxxxx.pdf

Thanks,
Your friends at Linux Journal "

...an experiment, an emergency, or what else?

73,
Arturo.

--
There are 10 kinds of people in the world — those who understand trinary, those who don't understand trinary and those who mistake it for binary.

Sigh...

Shawn Powers's picture

Still just have my phone, we're between matches at my daughter's volleyball game. I honestly don't know the date the gauntlet fell internally. It was a very short time ago. Even Aug 1 was just barely over 2 weeks from our announcement. You'll notice my column in this issue doesn't even hint toward a change. In fact, in the 11th hour I had to change my response to a letter to the editor, because my response was about international pricing, which is now moot. Read all my pieces, you'll see we didn't know.

Am I sorry if you feel slighted? Unequivocally. The point of my blog post on my site was to express how bummed I am too. Excited, but bummed. It seems like a contradiction, but it's oddly true.

Perhaps I'm just an over the top optimist, but what I saw the Linux Journal family do was to do everything possible in a short time to do the best possible for those folks we care about. The upcoming .ePub format is a continuation of that effort. We listened, and it's something we think we CAN do.

There are obviously conflicting thoughts on the process. I can assure you no one is an expert in such things. :)

And since my thumbs are about to fall off, I'll close there. :)

Shawn Powers is an Associate Editor for Linux Journal. You might find him chatting on the IRC channel, or Twitter

My reply

NixSince85's picture

Here's my reply to Shawn's blog post:

Shawn, I understand that LJ faced certain challenges in terms of continuing its print edition, but the way LJ handled this situation is really inexcusable. We (paying customers) know that LJ knew for a long time they were going to make the switch to all digital, yet we were left entirely out of the loop until AFTER the change had already happened. Why?

I’ve subscribed to LJ since the last millennium and I simply do not appreciate being left in the dark until the switch had already occurred. I, just like many others, LIKE having a hardcopy of the magazine and feel robbed by the demise of the print edition. I’m not saying that I’d be happy with the switch if I had been given some advance notice, but at least I wouldn’t be angry about the way it was handled on top of being disappointed at the demise of the print edition. You’re talking about the negative feedback as if you’re surprised…but why would you be? Don’t you see that LJ has let down its loyal customer base by springing the news on us after the fact? For me it’s not just about being unhappy that I’ll no longer have the “oh good! Linux Journal arrived today!” feeling each month, but being disillusioned by the way LJ handled the whole situation. I expected better from such a fine company.

I support 100% (cross post)

rinux's picture

Brian,
I support 100% what you say , my thoughts have centered!

73,
Arturo.

--
There are 10 kinds of people in the world — those who understand trinary, those who don't understand trinary and those who mistake it for binary.

Excellent

NixSince85's picture

Very nice post, and you've covered my sentiments [almost] exactly--except for the steak part, as I'm vegetarian! :)

I really think the way LJ handled the switch was awful. And unnecessary. They obviously knew for some time that they were going to go "100% digital," so why didn't they let us know? Why did they allow customers to order or renew subscriptions without telling them the print edition was disappearing? I've subscribed to LJ for many years...and I'm just so disappointed with their entire way of handling this situation, from deciding to go all digital to telling their PAYING customers after the decision had already been implemented.

I feel exactly the same

claykkari's picture

I got my remaining months refunded, but I would be much happier to re-subscribe if they somehow could revert the decision and continue printing. I would even pay 150% of the former price.

But lets be optimistic and hope that in five years we'll all have a rollable e-paper in our back pockets. Then I might be happy to return, I just hope LJ survives that far.

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