Why Are Magazines So Bad at Updating Addresses?
A reader named Mason DeCamillis writes in with a question/complaint:
Why does it take several weeks for magazines to update my mailing address when I move? I just changed my address with two magazines (on their respective websites), and both say it will take up to two publication cycles for the change to take effect. That seems crazy. When I buy something at an online store, I enter my address and they’re able to make a shipment to it the following business day, without waiting weeks for their database to be updated.
On the same note, when I originally subscribed to one of these magazines, I didn’t receive my first issue for almost three months, but in that time I received three letters from them asking me to renew my subscription. If they’re able to send a letter to me that quickly, shouldn’t it at least be accompanied by a current issue of the magazine?
Ouch. That’s a lot of bad practice for just a couple of paragraphs, but it’s hard to disagree. So why does this happen? Why is magazine fulfillment so last-century? And is it possible that these various flaws are responsible, even in small measure, for the massive plunge in ad revenues that magazines have just experienced? In an instant-gratification Internet world, are slow-footed magazines — nice glossy pages and all — helping to extinguish themselves?