Goodbye, paper edition of Scientific American, hello digital

I think I’ve had an unbroken subscription to Scientific American for the last 15 years or so. This week, I gave up my paper subscription. I usually purchased my subscription for 3 years at a time, but the latest round was due to expire in June or July, I think. I’d started getting the reminder notices, telling me to renew my subscription. Well, after my experiment in January, seeing how the magazine looked in the digital edition on my iPad, I decided not to renew the paper edition and instead, subscribe to the digital edition.

While the digital subscription is about $5 more each year, there are three big advantages:

  1. I get each month’s issue a week before it hits the newsstands.
  2. I can read the issue on my iPad.
  3. I have access to the entire digital archive of the magazine going back to 1993.

That latter item is huge. I’ve already played around with it. I can access a PDF copy of about 200 issues of the magazine. I can download either the entire issue in PDF format, or just the article I happen to be interested in. Now, when reading a current article that refers to an earlier article, I don’t have to wonder about it. If it appeared in a post-1992 issue, I can get it and read it.

Of course, there is also the usual benefit of being able to search within the issues, to say nothing of not having stacks of magazines cluttering my office.

The only magazine I still receive in paper form is Time and I also get that in digital. I’d give up the paper version there, too, but Time does not provide an option for that. To receive the digital version, you must also get the paper version. Maybe one day they will figure this out, too.


  1. Paul, you don’t need an iPad. They are all in PDF format and you can read them with any PDF reader. And you have access to the last 2 decades of the magazine as part of your subscription!

    On the iPad, I just push the PDF to my Kindle App and read it there.

  2. My husband got the new iPad and he wants to subscribe to Scientific American magazine. I am the “computer guru” of the family… (I know that is a scary thought, but we are a retired couple and so I am as good as it gets here.)

    I was surprised that the iPad is not as intuitive as I thought it would be. Fiddled with Newsstand and finally went on Safari to figure out why I was having trouble. Well, Scientific American is not an iPad magazine! The only digital availability is to buy it as a .pdf — Ok, did that. Now how to read it? It is there on the Safari tab, but it ought to go to iBooks somehow.

    I see how to put a .pdf into iBooks if it is an attachment to an email. But in this case it is just on a Safari tab. How do I get it into iBooks for him?

    1. Susan, in Safari, after downloading a PDF (like SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN) a button appears below the address bar on the upper-right part of the page that says “Open In…” I click that button and have several opens (iBooks, Kindle, GoodReader, etc.) in which to send the PDF. Clicking the Open In… iBooks send the PDF to iBooks, for instance.

      1. Thank you so much for replying to me. As I look at my husband’s iPad, I see no such button! I see the entire document (magazine) in a tab of Safari.
        The address bar says

        Hmm I just tried the “reload” button at the right edge to the address a bar and ow have lost the entire magazine and can’t even figure out how to get it back. When it comes to tech guru I am sorely lacking!

        1. Holy cow! I got all bollixed up in subscription hades with these guys but finally plowed through it and got the thing RE-Downloaded and briefly saw the “ibooks” button! So then i knew where to tap to make it appear again!

          Thank you thank you. I know how irritating it must be fore true tech champs like yourself to help lame folks like me…. I help so many of my of my retired friends so I figure that once I get it right then i can help them and the true whizzes like yourself can be saved a few hassles.

          Thanks thanks thanks!


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