WTF Economics

1 minute read

Cooking Light magazine cover

I subscribe to the magazine "Cooking Light". Issues usually have some good recipes when you ignore all the stuff about yoga, aromatherapy and blood pressure medicine (okay, I'm not sure they've ever run anything on aromatherapy, but still…).

I'm happy to say that they offer a digital edition on the iPad. It's one of those fairly direct conversions from the print edition, but still it lets me keep around old copies without having to keep track of them or have them take up space. And subscribers to the print edition can receive the digital edition for free, which I really appreciate. Good move on "Cooking Light"'s part.

Here's the weird thing:

I can renew my print subscription and get 26 issues for $60.

If I want the iPad-only edition I can subscribe to it for $20 for one year or $40 for 24 issues.

This is WTF economics. It's not like the digital edition doesn't have all the ads of the print edition. They seem to be exactly the same except for some layout differences. I don't really understand why I would pay more for less except that I would rather not waste the paper and shipping for the print edition if I could avoid it. Do we really have to pay extra to not waste paper?

Postscript: I emailed Cooking Light customer service to ask why the magazine plus the tablet edition cost less than just the tablet edition. They told me that they would be happy to continue my subscription without mailing me the print edition if I wanted to do that. It looks like they just don't have an automated path to provide that option without asking customer service. The upshot here is that it's worth actually inquiring if you can get what you want when it's not directly offered.