Magazines: Are they done?

I just got a copy of the September Macworld magazine. I have not even opened it yet. Just based on the cover I am wondering how they stay in business in this new model of information distribution.

The primary title on the page is “iPhone 3GS, Full Review: Apple’s Speedy Smartphone”. What exactly are they going to tell me that I have not already read on any number of internet sites? this is a tech magazine, surely they know and have even posted themselves, that the 3GS has been reviewed thoroughly.

The rest of the cover stories are somewhat better. There is a lab test and rating of the new Macbooks, something you can find online, but maybe not in this detail. An article about why you should upgrade to the 3.0 software for iPhone, again something you can find elsewhere but not with their spin. And something about trouble with the App store, intriguing. There are a couple more reviews mentioned; Safari 4 and home media servers.

If I was in charge of a tech magazine, I would focus on the content that sets that publication apart, the content that you can’t get anywhere else. I would never try to make a review of a piece of hardware that is already months old be the main story in the issue, on the cover. If it’s already online, leave it out.

Print publishing has to change if it wants to survive. Even then, I have my doubts about the viability of paper magazines.