PC Pro on its pointless cover CDs

You have to admire a magazine which runs an editorial dismissing its own cover-mounted CD  as “that wretched disc.”

So says Dick Pountain in the October 2007 issue of PC Pro. He says in his column that the only reason PC Pro continues to have a cover-mount CD or DVD is because its competitors do, and that none of these competing mags has the courage to be the first to stop.

Is it pointless? In these broadband Internet days, pretty much. It’s true that there is sometimes software included which cannot be downloaded. Software vendors use it for special promotions, or allow mags to distribute old versions as a taster for the latest and greatest. But why not just have subscriber-only downloads, or downloads protected by a key printed in the mag? Sure, someone might post the key to a newsgroup, but then again they might upload the binary from the CD, so there’s little difference.

I don’t altogether follow DP’s logic though. I can’t be the only one who rarely looks at what is on the cover disc. In fact, knowing that CDs are not exactly bio-degradable, I feel a twinge of guilt as they hit the black bin. So if DP is right and that the mags want to lose the disc, all it would take is 10 pence off the cover price and a flash saying “New lower-price environmentally-friendly CD-free issue”, and it’s done. I doubt this would cost sales; in fact, it might make the others look just a little behind the times.

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3 thoughts on “PC Pro on its pointless cover CDs”

  1. Why not sell two versions of a magazine? One with a disc, one without. Some magazines (at least here in Germany) already do.

    They could watch the sales figures and see which version is bought more often and then later decide to keep only that version.

  2. I agree that dispensing with the CD/DVD would be a great thing from an environmental perspective and it’s probably something that should be done.

    However, I do look at the cover of the PCW DVD that lands on my doormat – I look at it just to see what’s grabbing the attention of the PCW editors and writers, etc.

    Would I miss the DVD if my next issue came without it? Probably not – I guess the editors could easily include a couple of pages of content covering what they would have put on the disk if it were included. If the software was available for download, then what we have here is the “virtual cover disk”.

    I’m sure the folks who are stuck with dial up or those who don’t use the Internet enough to justify broadband will be the primary losers.

    But, as you say Tim, when the CD/DVD hit the non-recycle bin, I feel the pain. But it’s not just magazine cover disks that are part of this CD/DVD waste mountain: many ISPs include a CD inside various magazines, making it a pain to recycle the mag. Thankfully, I can’t remember the last ISP CD that landed on my doorstep on its own!

    Remove the cover disk? It gets my vote.

  3. I’d like to put in a good word about the beleagered DVD. The software included on the DVD includes full and trial versions of products I’m sometimes interested in and would have to take time to locate. Having the program on the DVD at least vets the program through the editors. It may not be the best of its class, but I assume it is at least ok. If I didn’t have a DVD to easily work with I would have to take the initiative to track down and select the software. This takes time and time is money. Also, the reprints, tutorials and other matter are also downloadable, but are more convenient on a disc.
    In short, I find that the DVD is a positive feature even if I only use one or two things on it.

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