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Ziff Davis To Close Print PCMag, Focus On Online; Still Looking For Options For Gaming Division

imageZiff Davis, the tech/gaming media company that recently exited Chapter 11 bankruptcy, is now taking the brave but inevitable step of closing down the print version of PCMag to focus its energy on its growing PCMag online network of sites, led by flagship PCmag.com. The magazine, which was started in 1982, has a storied history, but its print base eroded over the years as its core brand of journalism — news you can use while shopping for computers — moved online. It cut back from bi-weekly to monthly earlier this year. PCMag, which literally invented the idea of comparative hardware and software reviews, at one time during the ’80s averaged about 400 pages an issue, with some issues breaking the 500- and even the 600-page marks, according to this Wikipedia history.

The last issue will be dated January 2009; the closure will claim the jobs of about seven employees, all from the print production side. None of the editorial employees, who are now writing for the online sites anyway, will be affected. The site will still be called PCMag (with mag remaining in the name), but the online network — which has sites such as ExtremeTech, Gearlog, Appscout, Smart Device Central, GoodCleanTech, DL.TV, Cranky Geeks, and PCMagCast — will now be called PCMag Digital Network, with PCMag.com as its lead property. The company has about 200 employees, and the PCMag division has about 140 employees.

I spoke in detail today with Jason Young, the CEO of Ziff Davis, about this move, the online focus, and the status of the company’s more-troubled gaming division.

What he said after the jump

On the online side, he wouldn’t disclose the revenues for the PCMag brand, but said it was in “tens and tens of millions” of dollars. He said the revenues on the online side have grown an average of 42 percent yearly since 2001; digital is about 70 percent of the revenues for the PCMag brand, and overall is profitable. He said that despite the economic situation, the PCMag brand revenues grew about 18 percent in Q308, and thinks that it will hold up despite advertising downturn due to the power of the brand. Of course competition is heavy for those shrinking ad dollars, from everyone including other established brands like CNET, to newer ones like Engadget and others.

As for the status of its gaming group, which consists of its 1Up online brand and other gaming sites and EGM print magazine (the only print book left within Ziff Davis), Young said it is considering strategic options for the division. Same is true for its now shuttered DigitalLife consumer tech expo event. The company has tried to sell the gaming division before as well but was not able to find the right buyer then, our sources say.

Update: PCMag will continue to be published as an electronic/digital edition, as editor Lance Ulanoff explains here.

62 Responses to “Ziff Davis To Close Print PCMag, Focus On Online; Still Looking For Options For Gaming Division”

  1. George Stone

    There is (was) great satisfaction in picking up a magazine, relaxing and reading and re-reading articles of interest. Trying to read PC Mag. and other journals on a computer is more of a chore than a pleasure. You have "taken my Sunshine away!" Bah!

  2. PC Magazine Customer Service

    Hi, sorry for the delay in responding. Regarding questions about your PC Magazine subscription:

    We will continue to publish PC Magazine's digital edition, and print subscribers will have the option of continuing with digital. To see a sample of our latest issue please go to http://go.pcmag.com/dec08digital
    You can make the change from print to digital here: http://go.pcmag.com/subscriberservices.

    School fundraisers, door to door sales, etc., are managed by third party resellers of magazine subscriptions. If you ordered a subscription that way, please contact them directly for more information.

    If you have further questions, please call us toll-free 800-289-0429, or direct 303-604-7445.

  3. I am once a subscriber on this mag. I got it from an expo in Javits for 40 in 4 years. The last issue on my subscription was two years ago.

    SO perhaps I could keep the issues and bring it to an antique roadshow later on in life (if it will gain value)… so long print media, this is the road map technology is bearing.

  4. It's green? Who are you, George Bush? Have you never seen a server farm? Do you realize the amount of energy it takes to bring a digital copy to someone's inbox?

    Printers are in the business of growing trees, not killing them. Better get it straight, or the next thing you'll be selling will be pizzas.

  5. Robb French

    What about those of us who have paid subs???? I'm paid up till 2012!!!!! Will we get refunds for the paper edition, will the online version be subscription only & our paper subs carry over?

    Real nice of the publishers to let us know……

    Absolutely NOTHING in the paper version I just got. How abso*******lutely nice!

  6. william lewis

    I don't want to sit in front of my computer to read my magazine! I like to kick-back in my easy chair and read it. I just sent in a renewal and I want either my mag or a refund. Of course, I know that I'm out both. It's a hell of a world out there! You get fu??ed at every turn! Fats

  7. Patrick Kavanagh

    Like many others, I also have a paid subscription recently renewed and was not advised of the pending shut down at the time of that renewal. No offers of refund have come. No offers for other publications have been received. It appeaers they have taken the money and run, so much for loyal subscribers.
    Once again it's the customers who lose. So it goes…

  8. Gloria-Jean Molinaro

    You have some nerve to keep on insisting on your customers to keep renewing
    their subscriptions the very next month of the renewel, also there was never
    anything worthwhile in the magazine for the past two years., nothing interesting
    to me or my family.

    What would have happened if I renewed this last subscription?

    Very bad judgement on your part or you are like every other business, you are selfish and not trustworthy at all

    Gloria-Jean Molinaro

    rory

  9. For those who like to hold something (as in clinging to the past?) consider purchasing a kindle or similar e-book reader. Not great for glossy 4C magazine content but absolutely fine for tech reads like this.

    Here's a blog I wrote awhile back reflecting on this inexorable trend in the magazine industry toward 'green'. http://tinyurl.com/5kojjk

  10. It is nice to get away from the computer and sit to read a paper or magazine. We are in front of the computers most of the day and I would refuse to read magazines on-line. Sorry you lost me as a customer

  11. Ken McNutt

    I have always enjoyed your magazine. Sorry it is going to be discontinued. I hope that you will be able to do something with the the internet to take its place. Success to you

  12. As a dedicated subscriber for the last 18 years or so, I am disappointed but not really surprised that things have reached this point. I watched Compute! and Byte! and PC Computing and Creative Computing go away years ago. When Computer Gaming World/Games for WIndows went away, it was a pretty good sign that the end was near. But I will definitely hold on to the last issue as a memento. Oh, and worry about Maximum PC.