Forgive the one-week lag in my posts. I promise, though, the reason was a good one. I had to buy a new mobile phone (the purchase itself took up most of my spare time) and then test out a new service my local library offered so I could write about it: how to stay up-to-date on the arts & culture scene with arts & culture magazines for free.
One way to keep up with arts and culture is through reading: blogs, news outlets, magazines, etc. As fun as that is, the culture sector in just Ontario alone is huge. According to a report compiled by the Ontario Arts Council and published in November 2012, 9.5 million arts & culture tourists visited Ontario overnight in 2010. They spent $4.1 billion while here, created 68,000 jobs, and contributed $1.7 billion in taxes to local governments. This includes not only the performing arts, but also historical institutes and even tourists coming to walk through towns and view the architecture.
Reading up on all of that can get expensive. I recently wanted to subscribe to a few arts & culture magazines, but having them delivered would have cost me about $100/year if I’d whittled my list down to the top two contenders. Then I checked what my local library had, and I was impressed: they had a Zinio service for library members, and I had access to about 100 magazines. Some were more popular titles like O Magazine, but others, like The New Quarterly and Canadian Art, were clearly cultural magazines. I downloaded seven magazines this week, and they’re not even on loan: I get to keep them!
I still prefer magazines and newspapers to online-only sources, because they help me focus my reading. Due to their space limitations, they have to curate what they believe is their top content for their readers. (I also like how the ads don’t flash at me or wiggle up and down to keep my visual attention.)
Zinio is much larger than just the titles my local library offers, and you’ll find every price point. The most expensive I found in the arts & culture magazines was a $150 subscription for two issues of Runway Haute Couture. The Dance Current, for example, is only $12.50 for the year compared to their paper price of $42. My only complaint about Zinio is that they miscalculated the tax on my Dance Current subscription. That was offset, though, by the $10 coupon they sent me for my first subscription.
I have a 5″ screen on my phone, so it’s a bit tiny for reading magazines. But given that I just downloaded seven this week that aren’t going to collect dust in my home, I’m willing to give the small screen a chance. If you have a tablet, you’ll likely have a better reading experience.
Check your local library to see if they offer a similar service. Who knows: you may suddenly find yourself staying up-to-date on arts & culture in your area for $0 a year instead of a few hundred.