Last month I let my subscription to Motor Trend lapse after eighteen years. Eighteen years! It’s hard to believe it has been that long, but I started the subscription right after I moved to Seattle. If I include the fact that I read my father’s subscription for a while before that, I’ve probably been reading it for twenty-five years. I even mentioned it in one of the early incarnations of my personal home page.
So why did I finally let go? It wasn’t about the cost: Motor Trend still goes for around $10/year for a subscription, probably because it’s so heavily advertiser-subsidized. It’s largely because I no longer have the time to read it, the same reason that I cancelled my Seattle Times subscription a couple of years ago. When a newspaper goes straight to the recycle bin unread for more than a couple of weeks in a row, it’s a sign.
It’s not that I’m reading less, I’m just reading different things (mostly library books). And a few years back I started subscribing to Automobile Magazine which, while not always as current as Motor Trend, is far, far better written and more objective. It’s almost worth the price of the subscription just for Robert Cumberford’s By Design column, to say nothing of Jean Jennings and Jamie Kitman.
I was a little surprised that Motor Trend didn’t try harder to keep me after all of these years. Sure, they have lots of subscribers, but probably not that many for as long as me, which you’d think they’d be able to figure out from their elaborate data mining systems. If I were in their situation I’d consider extending the subscription for free for a year automatically just as a gesture of thanks. Then again, maybe they tried; most of the letters from them go into the recycle bin unopened, and if they tried to phone they probably were stymied by anti-solicitor measures.