We still remember the days when we would flip through an issue of Computer Shopper and put together our dream systems. Now, you’re more likely to find us doing the same thing on the net. In keeping with the digital trend, Computer Shopper has decided to cease print publication with its April issue, which is due off the press next week.
Some jobs will be affected as a result of the announcement, but owner SX2 Media Labs LLC isn't disclosing numbers at this time. Josh London, ComputerShopper.com GM, said the company has been profitable "as a whole" but did not say if the print version was profitable on its own. He also said the company would be interested in an acquisition.
This month marks the third anniversary since Computer Shopper was acquired by SX2Media Labs from CNET Networks. The magazine itself was founded in 1980 and often provided hours of reading for the computer geeks among us. As many readers moved online, the magazine shrunk in pages and some wondered if the publication could survive. According to London, when SX2 Media Labs acquired the magazine, it knew it would eventually go online only. As he put it, “Not surprisingly, the shift of our customer base followed everyone else's. They prefer to get it online.” Regarding the timing of this announcement, London said, “We had our best quarter ever in the fourth quarter of 2008, which made the decision clear.”
As you’ll recall, Ziff Davis cancelled the print edition of PC Magazine last year but continues to sell a digital edition. Computer Shopper is taking a slightly different route—its readers will have full access to content online without charge. Display advertising, cost-per-click, and cost-per-acquisition ads will support the site.
Current Computer Shopper subscribers aren’t completely out of luck: They will be offered a replacement magazine through the end of their subscription.
We wish Computer Shopper the best. They’re certainly not the first print media publisher to go all-digital, and they won’t be the last.
The full text of the staff email from CEO David Sills is copied below:
We purchased Computer Shopper from CNET in Feb 2006 with the goal of launching a revitalized ComputerShopper.com and ultimately transitioning fully to digital media. Today, we are able to realize that promise. Through all of your hard work, ComputerShopper.com is a vibrant destination for passionate technology enthusiasts. Effective with the April 2009 issue, SX2 Media Labs will cease publishing Computer Shopper magazine and focus all of our efforts on our largest and fastest growing area – ComputerShopper.com.
We did not make this decision lightly. Computer Shopper has a 30-year history as the most comprehensive guide to technology. Over the years, we evolved into a respected, world-class destination for trusted buying advice and reviews. Our readers demand expert, labs-based reviews of the latest technology products, delivered in a timely fashion, free of bias. This remains our editorial mission, and with our pure-digital focus, we’ll be able to deliver on it better than ever. And with ComputerShopper.com’s position of also being a prominent comparison-shopping engine for technology products, we will continue to deliver to our readers a unique mix of buying advice and shopping access.
We are in a very fortunate position. We have excellent editorial content, and an exceptionally strong brand – one that readers flock to amid a cacophony of sites that simply rewrite press releases. We have aggressive growth plans, particularly in editorial. We have recently launched a host of new editorial coverage, including an extensive netbook section, buying-guide and review videos, new blogs, newsletters, and more. We have also implemented a new content management system that allows us to minimize the time between initial receipt of products and the posting of reviews. This has enabled us to be the first to the Net with many new product reviews.
Unlike other media companies you may be hearing about in the news, we carry no meaningful debt, are closely held, and are well capitalized. We have multiple revenue streams and a strong base of leading advertisers that count on ComputerShopper.com as an integral part of their media plans.
Rest assured: In no way will our commitment to expert, labs-based reviews of the latest tech products waver. Indeed, we’re excited that our new all-digital focus will enable us to bring our trusted buying advice to a wider audience than ever, with a whole new level of timeliness and depth.
Our advertising clients have told us countless times how we outperform much larger sites. Our ability to maximize campaign performance combined with the insatiable activity of our audience makes this possible. And in tough times smart marketers move to measurable media with an engaged audience that can demonstrate a return on their advertising spend.
There are exciting times ahead for SX2 Media Labs and ComputerShopper.com, and enormous benefits to our digital platform. Our ongoing 2-way conversations with our readers enable us to gain deep knowledge of what content is most relevant to them. We have listened to our users, our readers, and our advertisers and seen their progression to ComputerShopper.com. We are excited to be able to take this journey with them. I want to thank you all for your hard work and dedication, and I look forward to growing the business with you in the future.