An open letter to World Radio magazine and CQ Communications

Posted by Nate Bargmann on Wed, Oct 26, 2011

I have been a long time subscriber to World Radio magazine dating back to the January 1984 issue when I received it as a sample copy due to my then having recently received my Novice license in November 1983.  I liked the magazine well enough that I bought a lifetime subscription in the early 1990s.  Your purchase of WR saved it from extinction and the change in editorial attitude made WR enjoyable to read again.  Obviously, economics have forced you to return to paid subscriptions.  But this is not the point of this letter.

In the process of returning to paid subscriptions you have chosen Zinio as your provider.  Who you chose matters not to me, how they offer the content to me does, however. From the Zinio FAQ a stand-alone reader is required to read magazine content delivered via their service on one’s own computer.  While a Flash plugin can be used online, a network connection is required.  As the standa-alone reader is available only for MS Windows and Mac OS/X, a Linux user, such as myself, is left with online as the only option.  This implies that the content is locked into a proprietary format accessible only with Zinio supplied software.

Vendor lock-in is a non-starter in my shack and so my money has stayed in my wallet.

I’m sure that you can appreciate that some of us do adhere to a set of ideals both within and outside of amateur radio.  One of the ideals that I hold is that content I purchase will be in a format that can be accessed via  a variety of tools.  PDF is one such format for documents and I think it was welcomed that the free editions of WR were offered as PDFs.  Many other well supported formats exist for other media formats.  So, to be clear, the issue is not that WR has returned to a subscription price, although I can empathize with former WR lifetime subscribers who feel a bit jilted.  The issue at hand is solely that WR is now offered in some proprietary format which is not only complicated by a single source supplier, but also puts anyone potentially at odds with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 (DMCA) who wishes to circumvent any protection Zinio has put in place.

I can appreciate that you have likely chosen this provider based on several criteria they offered that fit your new business model for WR.  I hope you can appreciate that we must part company until such time as WR is again provided in an open format supported by various reader software programs so I can be comfortable knowing that my subscription money will be buying a product that I can access well into the future.  I do not have that guarantee with Zinio even if they provided a reader for Linux.

73, de Nate »