The price of The New Yorker magazine if you buy it on a newsstand is $5.99, so it came as a surprise when I received a notice at the end of December telling me that if I renewed the subscription I get in the mail, I could send a second — free — subscription to anyone I chose.
Newspapers and magazines are not rolling in money these days, but I didn’t think things were so bad that a well-regarded and venerable journal like The New Yorker would have to resort to such tactics to enlist subscribers. Tut-tutting about the undignified depths to which a publisher might be forced to sink, I took advantage of what seemed a surprisingly generous deal.
The price of a year’s subscription is $69.99; that’s for 47 editions. I am not so good at simple arithmetic (at least not anymore), but I think that as a subscriber I pay only about $1.54 a copy. The dilemma was who to give the free magazine to.
My husband and I share the copies of The New Yorker I get without a problem, so it seemed silly to send another subscription to him, even if he does spend part of every week in New York City. On the other hand, I thought, maybe if I had it sent it to him at my own address, I could pop each copy into an envelope and mail it to my daughter in Nova Scotia.
That turned out to be a mistake. I sent her the first free copy that arrived, but the postage was $2.64. A gift subscription sent to Canada would cost $120 for a year, or about $2.54 cents a copy (without the hassle of going to the post office). So I began hunting for someone else, or some organization, to send the free subscription to.
Then, this week, opening my mail, I came upon another offer from The New Yorker. As a courtesy to “selected professionals,” the mailing informed me, I could subscribe for $25 for 25 issues. A dollar apiece. Having just plunked down my $69.99, all I could do was sigh.
It next dawned on me, slowly, that maybe I was coming out on top of this subscription game, after all: I am now getting two subscriptions for that $69.99 . . . and so that works out to, what? Seventy-seven cents per issue?
Though perhaps the value of doubles arriving at the same time in my very own postal box diminished the true value. . . .
Of course, this being the digital age, there had to be another solution to sending copies of the magazine to Nova Scotia. Going to its Web site, I found an offer that seemed to say the publisher, Condé Nast, was offering a free four-week trial for an online subscription. I signed her up. But when I tried to find out how much an online subscription would cost once the trial was over, I couldn’t.
Did The New Yorker not want me to know? That seemed rather below its dignity, too.
I clicked on the customer-service button, but didn’t find any advice, just an e-mail address for inquiries.
Back on The New Yorker’s home page I went, to look for a phone number. Naturally, I couldn’t find one.
I could have pulled down the Manhattan phone book, but I doubt subscriptions are handled by Condé Nast in Times Square these days, anyway. Probably Des Moines, or something, right?
It was time to consult a member of the younger generation, who might be more skilled at finding answers on the computer. I set my daughter on the case, up in Nova Scotia, and she wrote back quickly to break the news gently: I hadn’t signed her up for a four-week magazine subscription, but for a four-week trial of the magazine’s online digital archive.
Oh, well. A digital archive sounds interesting. And maybe a $2.64 trip to the post office is easier, after all.