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March 16, 2023, 11:06 a.m.
Mobile & Apps

Amazon calls it quits on newspaper and magazine subscriptions for Kindle and print

One Redditor: “I actually enjoy reading my local newspaper when it’s on the Kindle as opposed to the paper’s poorly designed website and frequently broken app.”

It doesn’t matter whether they’re for your Kindle or in print — starting this week, Amazon is no longer selling newspaper and magazine subscriptions.

Publishers were alerted to the coming change in December, and subscribers were notified last week. (If you have any of these subscriptions, you can see the timing for how they’ll be phased out; you won’t lose money.)

The Kindle was once seen as a possible savior for digital journalism (though Nieman Lab was always skeptical). In 2009, then–New York Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger appeared on stage with Jeff Bezos to introduce the larger-screened Kindle DX, saying, “We’ve known for more than a decade that one day an e-reader product would offer the same satisfying experience as the reading of a printed newspaper.” From 2011 until 2020, people who subscribed to the Times on the Kindle got free access to NYTimes.com, too.

Amazon hasn’t shared its exact reason for the change (the company’s statement to publishers is here), but one obvious explanation is that relatively few people are buying these subscriptions and it doesn’t make financial sense to continue to support them. Instead, Amazon wants publishers to add their content to its $9.99/month digital subscription program, Kindle Unlimited, which includes a bunch of magazines and access to one newspaper that I saw — USA TODAY.

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Anyway, while this all feels very 2011, news publishers in particular should check out some of the comments on last week’s Reddit thread, where customers talk about why they liked reading newspapers on Kindle, and why they’re sorry to lose the subscriptions — and it still has to do with the “satisfying reading experience” Sulzberger talked about more than a decade ago.

Very disappointing. I had only recently discovered that I actually enjoy reading my local newspaper when it’s on the Kindle as opposed to the paper’s poorly designed website and frequently broken app.

In addition to the sheer legibility/readability of the Kindle screen display, I liked the Kindle editions for the Table of Contents feature and other navigational aids. These made it easy to skim, particularly in large issues of a pub like the daily New York Times…

I currently subscribe via Kindle Newsstand to the publications below. It will be a hassle to manage the subscriptions separately now, for each publisher, via their websites. This mirrors the mess that streaming television has become, fragmented into many different providers with their own payment schedules, subscriptions costs, log-in credentials, Terms of Service, etc. etc.

I have:

The New York Times – Daily Edition for Kindle
The New Yorker
Foreign Affairs
New Republic
The New York Review of Books
New York Magazine

Woke up to the email and I’m pretty pissed. Loved having a few magazines and newspapers on my Kindle. Much easier on the eyes than a phone/tablet, better battery life, and things just worked (some of the apps reload and you lose your place between sessions).

Very disappointing. I’ve subscribed to many newspapers and magazines via my kindle for many years and prefer its layout to most crappy apps. At this point, i have been only using my kindle to read newspapers and magazines (usually use the app for books).

This is hugely disappointing. I have been a NYT subscriber on the Kindle for so many years…more than 10. One of my fondest memories is on a trip to Greece, staying in a hotel on the side of a cliff, and barely getting enough 3G signal to download the Sunday Edition. During the summer, I wake up every day and sit on my deck and read the NYT while I drink a cup of coffee. I subscribe to the paper edition on the weekends but I actually prefer the Kindle edition in a lot of ways because it’s ad-free and easy to navigate.

I was mad enough about dropping support for 3G but this might be the end of my relationship with Kindle. I’ll switch brands to whatever I can get NYT on, or I’ll just skip the Kindle entirely. And I was hoping to upgrade soon… Kindle probably just lost a customer.

If you like reading news sites on Kindle, here’s a hack to keep you going.

Laura Hazard Owen is the editor of Nieman Lab. You can reach her via email (laura_owen@harvard.edu) or Twitter DM (@laurahazardowen).
POSTED     March 16, 2023, 11:06 a.m.
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