I have recently completed my first year as a subscriber to NEW SCIENTIST. I read every single one of the 51 issues cover-to-cover. Sometimes I got behind a few issues, but I would always manage to catch up, and I always enjoyed every single issue. At the same time, I have been a subscriber of SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN for something like 15 years now. I also read those issues cover-to-cover. They are longer, but less frequent, coming monthly rather than weekly. Between the two magazines, I feel like I have a good understanding of current scientific issues.
Having had a year to read through NEW SCIENTIST (NS), I here are a few thoughts on the differences between it and SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN (SA), beginning with a few obvious ones and moving to more subjective ones:
- NS is a British publication while SA is American
- NS is weekly, SA is monthly
- NS typically runs about 50 pages, SA typically runs 80+
- NS has shorter articles, but it more timely; NS articles are typically written by scientific journalists. SA has longer, more in depth articles often written by the principal investigators themselves; they articles are less timely.
- NS is stylistically lighter than SA. Comments and commentary are often humorous. SA is more serious (with the exception of the "Anti-Gravity" column.
- NS has a stronger focus on climate change and global warming than SA.
- SA has better regular columns (in my opinion) than NS.
- NS has a better overall format than SA. SA has recently changed editors and once again changed some of its internal format; I liked it better before the change.
Overall, I’d say I enjoy reading NS more than SA, although I look forward to reading both. I think that by reading both, I get a balanced view of the world of science and the critical scientific issues of the day.
But I don’t just read them for fun or for improving my knowledge of science. These magazines provide a wealth of ideas for stories and as a science fiction writer, that may be the most valuable service that they provide to me.