I’ve just discovered that the National Geographic Magazine is now available on my Kindle. (So far as I can tell, it was just released in May.) I’ve downloaded the latest issue and it is an incredible disappointment. The Kindle Edition has the writing I remember, but it lacks the impressive photographs that make it worthwhile.
It only has the one photo per article, while the paper edition has dozens.
This is just a brief review; so much of the magazine is missing that there isn’t much left to be said. So let me tell you now that you shouldn’t get the Kindle edition; if you want a digital copy get the one from Zinio or the one on the iPad (really expensive).
This is _so_ not a magazine that you buy for the articles. Well, that’s not completely true. The writing is still good, but I also know that in every issue there are also dozens of beautiful photographs that didn’t make it to the Kindle Edition.
But that’s not all. This edition is also missing all the sidebars and little images, even the ones that could have been included. I compared the paper and Kindle copies of the June issue and I can find dozens of little details that could have been kept. I can understand why the huge photographs were left out, but the little details should have been left in.
Do you know why I tried the Kindle Edition? It’s because Amazon recently added support for periodicals to their Android app. I thought that this would have pictures that might actually make use of the larger color screen. Nope.
The cost of the Kindle Edition is $1.99 a month (~$24 a year). It’s more than the paper ($15) or Zinio subscription ($15), but not that much more.
Then again, the Kindle Edition costs more but delivers less. Given that it lacks half the content, it is ridiculously overpriced. The KE should be priced at $0.99 a month. You’re still paying for more than you get but the price wouldn’t be quite so unreasonable.
Entertainment (a footnote)
This Kindle Edition reinforces my view of magazines as entertainment. Half the value of this magazine was the little extras like the sidebars, inset images, and the like. Take them out and it’s not the same product anymore.
P.S. After writing this review I was inspired to go look at the Kindle Edition of Wired Magazine. Wired is also a very visual magazine and the KE would feel just as crippled. But there isn’t a Wired KE, and for obvious reasons. It would suck just as bad as the National Geographic KE, and clearly the Wired staff figured that out ahead of time.