Should Stereophile charge for online access to all of its magazine content? Why or why not? How would you handle supporting a more complete website?

Reader "Bob" says that he'd be very happy to pay for access to a complete Web-based version of <I>Stereophile</I>, and suspects other readers would too. Do you agree that this is a good idea?

Should <I>Stereophile</I> charge for online access to all of its magazine content? Why or why not? How would you handle supporting a more complete website?
I agree with Bob; here's why:
20% (53 votes)
I have a better idea:
42% (110 votes)
The paper magazine is all I need.
32% (84 votes)
Don't care.
5% (12 votes)
Total votes: 259

A T Dikeulias's picture

sometimes one just wants a review! When one does not live in the USA, it's time consuming to get at the review needed.

Mr.  Gridlock's picture

Make all the articles and reviews available and I'll pay a reasonable fee for that. It'll have to be less than for buying a whole back issue.

Dan Landen's picture

I like the Web version the way it is and the print version is fine too. No sense in duplicating the efforts. If you do, then yes, we should have to pay something for the efforts of the staff and writers. But I like the info from the current artictles on the website, and this readers' poll question stuff—some of it is quite informative.'s picture

There is something about getting home from a tough days work to find the latest issue in your mail box.'s picture

Stereophile has gotten so useless and trite, I'm starting to wonder if it is even worth the $10/year rate. TAS is reminding me of what Stereophile once was.... Even with the outrageous price and 1/2 the issues, it's got my attention. Stereophile will continue to grow, then die off totally. Wait and witness it!

toan's picture

Why don't we have free access for subscribers and limited for the non subscribers.

D Gordon's picture

Why don't you give all regular print subscribers full access to current and ALL available back issues online(as they're added to the e-archives)? My wife and I try not to save all of the magazines we purchase or subscribe to because they take up way too much room. It is sometimes difficult to part with old magazines because we occaisonally like to reference older articles, recipes, etc. If non-subscribers want to access the current issue, or old issues, let them pay on a per-use basis, perhaps for a week or month (ever lose your connection in the middle of something?) at a very reduced cost. Hey, there are no printing or mailing charges, so make it easy and inexpensive. No one can read the whole thing at one shot. And there are almost none who will print out the entire magazine, for God's sake. Don't be too paranoid about getting ripped off. (Every time a subscriber loans his issue to a buddy you're getting ripped off, and it's been happening for years.) Besides, it would be nice to be able to check out the history of reviews by a particular reviewer to find out where they're coming from, how they have evolved, etc. For those crazies--er, audiophiles--who have to keep all the old printed issues, and have the space, well good for them. I could go on, but you get the point.

hynesinkc's picture

do not wish to pay. as an infrequent user i would simply like to review articles on various compents for my own information.

john's picture

Forget the online magazine. Where is the message board. I recommend running UBB. Lets get on that Mr.webmaster.

tony esporma's picture

For the time being, a single subscription should cover both the paper and on line magazine. Before you can start charging for the on line magazine on its own, you must change it from a pseudo weekly publishing schedule to a more dynamic update and include all of the archives. Currently I only subscribe to as an online magazine. They have never been a deadtree publication and from day one they've offered non stop daily updates.

Jeff's picture

Keep the website free, but allow people to download issues of Stereophile for a charge. Look at TAS's site.'s picture

I believe that charging for web-based information is wrong, regardless of who is offering it. I have never had a problem with the costs involved with the paper publishing business, and have, at times, been a part of that business. Web-based versions of already established magazines, however, are a different matter, and having been a part of that business, as well, I know what I am talking about. All of the information that Stereophile gathers and offers will be made available to the public in print format, and that public will pay for it. In addition, so will the countless companies whose often appealing and decorative adds populate the pages of the magazine. Once any particular issue, however, comes off the shelves and into the archives I believe it is in Stereophile's best interest to make it free to the internet browsing public. I believe this for two reasons: 1) it has already been payed for, and 2) print media, in this day and age, can be turned into web-based media with the click of a button. Stereophile is going to continue to pay for the maintenance of its website whether or not they have a fee-based section. However, by locking information away behind a wall of electrons that reads "please enter your credit card number" the only thing they are going to do is alienate people who might, otherwise, become interested in paying for the privilege of a paper version. Let's face it, no matter how free the internet makes everything, there is no way this harsh bright light pulsating forth from the screen, blinking adds to the right of the text (which, by the way, would easily pay for what little additional cost a full-featured site might incur), and seemingly endless wait times for that desired information to load properly... there is no way these will beat the excitement that that new issue of Stereophile produces when it shows up on your door step and begs to be read in the warm comfort of an easy chair, glass of wine in hand, and Bob Dylan playing on your multi-thousand dollar system, which this magazine most likely helped you choose. There are already countless other free web-based information sites on everything you can imagine, and many of them offer information on par, in terms of authority, excellence, and ingenuity, with Stereophile. Perhaps there are no other audio based magazines (although Soundstage is certainly close), but start charging and they will appear. I have stopped visiting The Absolute Sound altogether for this very reason (and I suspect many others of you have as well). It is not about the money, I can afford three dollars for a PDF file. Hell, I could afford it for a dozen of them each week. That is not the issue. It is really about greed, capitalism, and keeping information free. Add a few more adds, they are annoying, yes, but they will more than cover Stereophile's extra cost, and the executives, like most executives in America, can continue to make six, or even seven, figures. So, the answer to your question, how would I handle supporting a more complete website: simple, I would choose to accept the reduction of my yearly profit from 33% to 32%.

Reader's picture

I don't think its a good idea because it will put off many people, like myself. I subscribe to your magazine and prefer to read a "hands on" copy. However, access to your magazine content is useful if I have discarded a past issue and want to obtain a past review or article. I don't think very many people would abuse the system and read your magazine for free. Who but an idiot would sit in front of a monitor for hours reading your magazine cover-to-cover? (Perhaps it is the idiot who thought of this idea of charging for access. Its tedious to read long documents on the monitor - people want to have it in their hands. And print it out? Why bother? It's easier to simply subscribe. And since I usually read your magazine in the bathroom, dragging the monitor into the lavatory and setting it up is too much trouble. Can't you come up with better survey questions than this, for Christ's sake?

Tjipto Hendrawan's picture

It is hard to find Stereophile in my country.

Armstrong's picture

Make it free! Just like Tom's Hardware or Sharky Extreme or Anand Tech. Those sites don't charge a dime to review computer components. More free articles. More hits. More banners. More $$$.

Jim Pearson's picture

First off, we are still a long way from replacing the good 'ole paper magazine, even if the reader's primary interest is not in the high quality printing and photographs. The ability to easily flip pages back and forth to reread a spec here, or compare another there, is just too convenient to abandon to the vicissitudes of the internet. Not even the fastest cable modem approaches that convenience. However, the availability of an online version of each issue will surely appeal to some readers, so who am I to tell them how to spend their money or you how to collect it? If I had my druthers, I would like to see all articles four months and older available in the archives free of charge, instead of the spotty list now available. (Every single piece of equipment I was keen on reading about from the last Recommended Components List was not yet included as "www." Since my current subscription started only a year and an half ago, I stand to miss the full articles on equipment still on the list.)

Tony R.  Harrison, Sr.'s picture

While it would be very convenient to have access available online and a very nice public service, I would not pay for it. No, I disagree with Bob.

Myronc's picture

Would you (at Stereophile) consider a web-based magazine that does not duplicate the printed version; perhaps with a larger readers' section where we can exchange views, comments, etc...

S.P.  Salerno's picture

Of course Stereophile should be available for a fee on the Internet. The more people who see and read about Audiophilia nervosa, the better, as far as I'm concerned! Why should I be the ONLY person in my town who worries about jitter? When EVERYONE catches the affliction, it isn't an affliction anymore, right?

Robert McKenzie, Chicago's picture

Stereophile should have two rates for its subscription: one price for a subscription to the magazine, and another, slightly higher price for a subscription plus full access to the website. By linking the full access to a subscription, you reward your subscribers and possibly boost the number of subscibers in the process.

Rui's picture

I am a software engineer and an audiophile. After spending 10–12 hours a day in front of a computer, the last thing I want back home is to be in front of a computer again, which does nothing but hurt my eyes and back. I'd rather retreat into my hi-fi room with a paper/book/magazine in my hand and truly enjoy myself. Enough of this "everything online" crap. However, if there is enough demand out there, it may make business sense for Stereophile to explore that possibility.

James Hackler's picture

It would depend on the price. for $2 a month I would do it. I am already a subscriber.

Steve Cuskley's picture

In addition to Bob's terriffic idea, give us the ability to pay a flat fee to be able to access a certain number of individual articles and reviews. It would be great to be able to shop for used gear at various websites and look up a review on the equipment.

Vianna, London's picture

Create a complete Web-based version of Stereophile and offer free access to subscribers. I am sure the $$$ numbers would grow!!

Johannes Naesstr's picture

Well, first, you don't need to wait for your issue to cross the ocean, for instance. Second, the price should go down compared to the paper issue. I think both versions should exist simultanously; the online version currently available should also exist as a third, low-cost option. Am I asking too much? I don't think so!

Hugh Jass's picture

IF you make people pay to find out reviews, latest news or tips and tricks(which are not found here!!) they will simply go somewhere else where they can get it for free.

Ross Lipman's picture

To me, a Web copy should act as an adjunct to the hard copy, but I still find the print format to be easier. On the other hand, a Net version should theoretically be cheaper to the customer, increasing subscriber base and making your publication more attractive to advertisers. A free Web copy would be useful to me if it listed table of contents (already present), the Industry Updates, one or more of the editorials, AND a complete list of the music reviewed, WITH 30-second downloadable segments (MP3 quality) from each reviewed choice. A writer can only go so far in accurately describing what a recording sounds like. Only the listener can decide if they like the music. Let the reader listen to a portion of each reviewed item and I suspect that more of the reviewed items will be sold. There can also be a tie-in to one of several Net music vendors that would agree to a discount price for Stereophile readers (special code or read of a cookie from a click-through). On a parallel note, how about links to authorized dealers for the equipment reviewed? I am sure the manufacturers would cooperate with the setup of these links. How about real-time chat with the reviewers, both music and hardware? In my estimation, the current website does not enhance the enjoyment of your primary product, the print copy. You provide some current industry news, some archive items, and lots of links to purchase Stereophile merchandise. One feature I would like to see is ALL of the content of the previous issues, back to Vol.1 No.1. Maybe everything two years and older, to prevent erosion of current readership. Anyway, thanks for the bandwidth!

Antonio Medrano's picture

I agree, but I would also add all of the content from previous issues.

Adam Moritz's picture

I think all current subscribers should have access to complete web based back issues.

No MORE $$$$'s picture

Do not charge MAKE your money from advertising and shows!