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The Answer To Empty Newsstands: Readbug Delights Readers With A Subscription Service For Independent Magazines

I hate to admit it, but the internet has changed my reading habits. Before I spent so much time reading from glowing screens, I had subscriptions to several magazines and literary journals. I loved their glossy pages, stunning photography and amazing content. So what happened?


The same things that have happened to most modern readers. The abundance of free content online of ever improving quality, within convenient reach, stole attention. Meanwhile, a number of print publications struggled to make the digital leap or disappeared altogether.


Print mags, once you pile up a few subscriptions, become expensive. What’s more, if you love love love reading, you become locked into reading only your subscriptions, which feels restrictive now, given the range of free reading available.


Yet, the online reading experience has somehow still been lacking…


Readbug has the smartest answer I’ve seen so far, combining our expectations for online reading material with the best that print magazines had to offer. Like Spotify with music, or Netflix with movies, Readbug is a subscription service that gives readers unlimited access to independent magazines for a monthly fee. And while we’re talking comparisons, it has a Flipboard-like interface for easily navigating curated content.


readbug landing


This digital platform for independent magazines gives their print counterparts proper digital treatment, translating photographs and print to the small screen so that articles can be appreciated to their fullest. A Readbug subscription also unlocks all the best reading material that readers would end up paying individual publishers for once their free allotment runs out.


As a digital nomad and reading fiend, it’s easy for me to see the benefits of a Readbug subscription. It’s more practical than print, since you can take content with you wherever you go (on any device), without hauling copies around. You can read all of your favorite content that you otherwise couldn’t afford. Yet, you still have the freedom to discover new sources and read around according to your whims. Can I say goodbye clickbait and welcome back Harper’s?


I’d argue that the traditional, every publisher-for-itself approach didn’t work so well even before the Internet in terms of maximizing audience engagement. Faced with the sheer volume of available content and venues like Medium now winning over readers that hunger for substance, going alone is suicidal for most independent magazines.


Readbug gives readers the reading experience they now expect, but the top-shelf content they’ve either given up on or learned to peck at on the margins. I go back to the literary journals I love. There are an incredible number of small publishers that put together beautiful compilations of photo essays, nonfiction, fiction and poetry – that far too many people never see because they simply can’t afford them all. By joining the ranks on Readbug, they’d no doubt enjoy more eyes on their pages. Win for both readers and magazine publishers.


So far, Readbug is available on iOS, but with Android compatibility promised soon. The startup currently offers a 30-day free trial offer. Subscribe at


Photo Credits

Readbug | Kotomiti Okuma/Shutterstock

Author : Keith Liles

Keith Liles is a freelance writer who loves travel, music, wine, hiking, poetry, and just about everything. He practices saying "yes" to life vigorously, rehearsing for the phone call when he's asked to tour with Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. Follow Keith on Twitter @KPLiles.

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