I’ve long been a great fan of New Scientist. It presents scientific information at just the right level for me, with enough depth to be interesting and yet shallow enough that I can, usually, understand what is being talked about. Yet when my electronic subscription via Zinio expired in October last year I did not renew; and every time I’ve gone to look at renewing I’ve been hit with the same problem – I simply don’t like being discriminated against so overtly for being Australian.
Subscribing electronically is significantly cheaper than subscribing in hardcopy; avoiding paying the ‘dead tree premium’ saves almost $200 on a local annual subscription. And New Scientist works well on the iPad: it looks like the hardcopy and is easily readable. So it would seem that a Zinio subscription is a no-brainer.
But Zinio keeps sending me marketing offers for New Scientist. When I follow the links for the offer I’m eventually told that the offer is not available in Australia, only in the US. Now that’s frustrating because I’ve been led down the garden path by the offer, I’ve wasted my time and I don’t get the purported offer. Bad marketing all-in-all. But worse is the fact that it pushes my face in the price of the US version of the publication. The US, UK and Australian versions are for all intents and purposes identical bar the advertising. And bar the pricing. If I subscribe to New Scientist via Zinio in the US it costs US$72 for an annual subscription; the same thing in Australia costs A$125.
At current exchange rates, the Australian price is almost double the US price. And that’s simply annoying. There might, possibly be some justification for a price differential in the hardcopy prices given economies of scale – but I’m at a loss to see a justification for a differential in the online pricing. Other than the fact they seem to be able to get away with it.
I had started to put together a lovely little spreadsheet demonstrating the differences, but then I found someone had beaten me to it. Core Economics did a nice article with handy comparison spreadsheet here. They compare the prices of quite a range of publications and find that most have the same price here as in the US, but…
Notable exceptions are New Scientist, The Economist and National Geographic, which cost 1.85 times, 2.23 times and 2.36 times more in the Australian online store than in the US store, respectively.
As long as that goes on I’m going to vote with my money just to demonstrate to the publishers that in this day and age there’s no excuse for not looking at online distribution as a global market.
Update: I updated the figures here in 2016 with: Getting the best New Scientist deal in Australia.