The 10 Cheapest Magazine Subscription Offers Today

And the 10 Most Expensive

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UPDATE: Despite surveying more than 150 magazine offers around the web, we overlooked some nicely pricey titles that should have made it on to our most expensive list. See below for details.

NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- You might assume the cheapest magazine subscription offers would come from mainstream lifestyle or cooking titles, while the priciest offers would belong to, well, magazines about living rich. And there's some truth to that.

But the fact is, no matter how much Chris Anderson talks about 'free' as the digital era's up-and-coming price point, many magazines have been offering all-but-complimentary subs for years.

That's partly because cheap introductory rates attract subscribers who might later renew for more. But they're also, perhaps more important, a way to keep expanding paid circulation -- which helps magazines attract more advertisers and make those advertisers pay more.

With magazine ad pages falling the way they are right now, though, magazines charging their readers a lot are looking pretty smart.

Here are the 10 best introductory subscription prices, plus the 10 most expensive, that we found on magazine websites this week.

Just don't forget the fine print: We took the best deal offered, even if that meant a three-year commitment, and the terms on offer can and do change without notice. Click on a magazine's cover to see its subscription offer.

Ten Lowest Subscription Prices per Copy

1 33
2 36
3 39
4 42
5 46
6 47
7 50
8 54
9 55
10 56
"We look at our audience from a 'lifetime customer' perspective," said a spokesman for Meredith, publisher of Parents, which had the lowest subscription price we found. "The readers for Parents are in the family-formation stage. If they become a Meredith customer at this point of their lives, as they and their families grow, they will migrate to our other media properties and brands -- Ladies' Home Journal, Family Circle, Better Homes and Gardens, etc. So there is value bringing them in at a reasonable price point."

Seventeen's introductory offer on its site, 42 cents per copy over a three-year commitment, is only one piece of the magazine's subscription base. "Seventeen, like any smart magazine, uses a variety of targeted offers in its overall marketing mix," a spokeswoman said. Seventeen's average annualized subscription price at the end of last year was $10.76, she said, which works out to 91 cents per issue.

Ten Highest Subscription Prices per Copy

1 $3.33
2 $3.00
3 $2.91
4 $2.57
5 $2.50
6 $2.49
7 $2.45
8 $2.33
9 $2.22
10 $2.19
"We will not compromise our strong business model simply for growing advertising, as it is not fair to the consumer or the advertiser," said Eric Hoffman, exec VP-chief operating officer at Hoffman Media, publisher of Cooking With Paula Deen. "We believe in our brands and believe people will pay for them if they like them. Our price per copy seems high because we do not dilute it with junk circulation. It doesn't make sense to give a subscription away for the cost of a cup of coffee -- and these market conditions are proving that."

"Advertisers should be asking more questions about the quality of the circulation being delivered," he added, "and not the quantity."



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UPDATE: Despite surveying more than 150 magazine offers around the web, we overlooked some nicely pricey titles. They include Harvard Business Review, which offers 12 issues for $99 -- that's $8.25 per issue. Fader's asking $3.33 an issue. And Taunton Press titles from Fine Cooking to Fine Woodworking will sell you three-year subscriptions running $3.89 up to $4 per issue. Cook's Illustrated, which does not accept advertising, costs $4.16 an issue. Next time around, we'll cast our net even wider.

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