Shouldn’t More People be Reading Harper’s?

2008-10.jpgJon Friedman wants to know why Harper’s isn’t more widely read (notwithstanding Moe Tkacik). Is it because, as Friedman notes, “its covers have all the pizzazz of a form letter from the Internal Revenue Service.” Certainly an apt observation, though Drudge isn’t especially pretty to look at either and it seems to do okay. We think it’s worth pointing out that unlike, say, The New Yorker, Harper’s firewalls most of its content behind a subscription service, and even though we prefer to read long-form pieces in print online access has a way of putting you in the conversation. Not to mention, the Harper’s Index seems to us to be a blog just waiting to happen!

Of course, truth be told, we happen to subscribe to both the New Yorker and Harper’s and we rarely pick the latter up (though it does happen to be the publisher of two of our favorite magazine articles ever). So what gives other than the fact the Internet has killed our attention span?

Well actually, no one seems to have an answer. The article simply goes on to point out the Harper’s does great investigative journalism, which we would happily direct you to except it’s not available online. Though Harper’s doesn’t seem to be in any hurry to remedy the situation, says publisher John MacArthur: “Some years we break even, some years we lose a little and some years we make a little.” So maybe Harper’s is sort of like the PBS of magazines. And really, we appreciate the lack of “the sky is falling” publishing mentality in that sentence. That said, a little more online access and a slightly more eye-catching cover (it’s true, covers work!) wouldn’t be all that much to ask, would it?