Sunday, April 13, 2008

Staples and Binding, Part Two

My reading habits have taken a strange turn for the last year, due in part to work commitments and other developments in the publishing universe. In a sense, the habits that I once described in a previous post have changed significantly.

For starters, Dungeon magazine ceased publication sometime in the middle of last year, and took its sister Dragon with it. The culprit was not a question of low sales or a lack of interest in the magazine, but more a case for technological advancement -- it seems that the role-playing crowd, Dungeon's core audience, has largely moved online with the onslaught of MMORPGs and other online games. The result was a "reinvented" version of the two publications, now available to anyone with an Internet connection and a good UPS.

Last year also saw the final hurrah for Inquest Gamer, the only other magazine that I buy at a reasonably "subscription-like" level. Why Inquest folded up remains a mystery to me; it was fairly popular as far as I knew, it was one of the few periodicals that catered to the casual gaming crowd, and it constantly found ways to liven up existing games instead of focusing solely on new releases. I feel that its existence may have been doomed by the spate of gaming-related sites; putting stuff online brings up news a lot faster than the printing presses do.

I'm aware of how much more efficient the Internet can be, but would it kill people to stay with the standard print format from time to time? I'd like something glossy that I could read and re-read on a bus or in the middle of a power failure, thank you very much.

I haven't seen an issue of Games magazine in the bargain bin for some time, and I can't find the current issues on sale anywhere. That implies that the more recent issues haven't been reaching us for some reason -- maybe the magazine cut its print run, or maybe it's been selling out its publications abroad. Whatever the case, the only new periodicals that I see on the shelves seem to concentrate exclusively on Sudoku puzzles, which I personally can't stand.

Finally, I've given up on a lot of computer gaming magazines. This is simply because I'm waaaay out of the gaming loop -- I don't play online games, I don't own a next-generation console, and I have too little time to play anything but emulations of the old Super NES time-wasters. The contents of recent issues are more likely to confuse me than interest me, and I'm not about to drop half my savings on some fast-moving hardware just to catch up.

As you can see, that leaves me with absolutely no casual reading left to speak of. I could just call it a day and delve into the novels and comics that a lot of other people buy, but I just don't see plenty of re-readability in these. So I'm looking at any or all of the following right now:

Reader's Digest. I gave up this little publication ten years ago because 1) it featured a little too many "human-drama" stories for my taste, and 2) I was starting to get irritated by all the "sweepstakes" mailings. My grandmother still subscribes, however, and I leaf through the issues every now and then. So far I've decided that their "Laughter" feature has gotten worse over the years, but their focus on Asian affairs seems to have gotten more pronounced. I'm still sitting on the fence for this one.

Anime Insider. From the same publishers of Inquest Gamer, this sister publication exclusively focuses on Japanese manga and anime, and holds a very similar humorous bent. The catch: I'm not that focused on Japanese animation, and I don't think that this'll hold my interest for the long-term.

FHM Philippines. Yes, I'm aware that it has a certain lowbrow reputation, and I'm aware that at its core, it's a magazine that features women in various states of undress. But I'm also aware that they recently revamped the magazine and its features over the last few months, and as a result, it's shifted at least some of its focus away from the half-naked women. ("Some," mind you, and unfortunately not "all.") In fact, their latest issue purportedly has a list of "fifty reads for guys" or something like that, and I'm dying to find out what the list is like. That said, if anyone could possibly point me to an website that reflects the article's contents, it would save me the trouble of buying the lousy magazine.

Discover. I'll be honest -- to me, the main feature of this magazine lies in the supremely gifted puzzle column on the back page; everything else is merely cake to its ice cream. I'm still trying to decide if a single column (that used to be available online, mind you) is worth my three hundred pesos / nine dollars each month.

Total Girl. Just kidding.

So... does anyone have any suggested monthly readings out there? Does anyone have a magazine subscription that they'd care to recommend? Do give me a hand over here... I've found myself constantly running out of casual reading material for the past few weeks.


kyutbabe said...

Try Story Philippines. I just bought a copy at Fully Booked today so I haven't read it yet. It contains only 6 stories so for P150, they should be good. Otherwise, the cost just went to the ink and tabloid-size paper. The url is and if you want to subscribe, you can do so here: If you don't like the stories then submit one yourself, that's something I would gladly pay for :)

Sean said...

Kyutbabe: I'm okay with Story Philippines -- in fact, I make it a point to pick up copies of Philippine Genre Stories, which isn't too far off. The catch is that both publications don't come out on a monthly basis, and I'm looking for something to tide me over in the meantime. :)

Anonymous said...

"I'm aware of how much more efficient the Internet can be, but would it kill people to stay with the standard print format from time to time? I'd like something glossy that I could read and re-read on a bus or in the middle of a power failure, thank you very much."

I completely agree with you on this! Sometimes I even print out the stuff I see on the internet, just because I find it a lot more fun to read things in print. :)

Anyway, you could venture towards the travel magazine section, there's lots of interesting info to be found. It doesn't matter which magazine you choose, in my opinion, they have mostly the same kind of content.

Other than that, I don't think I'll be able to recommend any more that you'd probably like. I actually read Total Girl. Hehe. :P

(This is Ida, btw. I changed my URL.)

Charles said...

Just curious Sean, considering you don't play D&D, what caught your interest in Dungeon/Dragon magazine?

P.S. There's always Wizard Magazine, Scrye, Game Trade, and Polymancer.

Sean said...

Ida: What happened to the old account? Surely the lack of HTML code wasn't that bad. :)

The travel magazines sound okay -- I remember leafing through quite a few of them in one of my doctors' offices, despite the fact that I usually can't afford the hobby. :) Now that I think about it, though, I'll have to hope that I don't run into Malu Fernandez in any of those magazines.

Charles: I think that I share a similar approach with most RPG module conceptualists: I feel that a good story sometimes involves placing an eclectic cast of characters in some intractable situation, and seeing what they do to get out of it. That's what interested me in Dungeon -- it was a veritable smörgåsbord of intractable situations just waiting to happen.

Dragon, on the other hand, I only picked up as a curiosity -- it gave me a few interesting ideas for story Macguffins, but little more. I like to think that I'm more a puppetmaster than a roleplayer -- I don't want to be the halfling rogue who stalks a corridor checking for traps as much as I want to be the sadistic designer who puts the spiked pit right next to the arrow slits. :)

The other gaming/comic/whatever magazines did spark my interest a bit, but they all failed in various ways for me. Wizard runs me five hundred pesos an issue and usually doesn't land in the bargain bins; Scrye is aimed more towards beginner gamers and the younger crowd; Game Trade and Polymancer are hard to find. Sometimes I wish they still published The Duelist, mind you -- that was one heck of a clean magazine.

Anonymous said...

Ah, the old account is... er... Okay, I admit it. My friends are all in Wordpress, and I gave in to peer pressure. -_-

Re the magazines, I haven't so far run into Malu Fernandez (again) or anyone like her yet, so I think we're safe for now. :)

P.S. Are you sure you won't give Total Girl another chance, though? It's really cute. Or K-Zone, if you think Total Girl is too girly. Heheh. :P

Sean said...

Ida: Hey, I read K-Zone. I mean, I read it once. Yeah, that's it -- just once. Heh. :)