|Gigi Hadid on the controversial April cover of Vogue Arabia|
Magazines have never been more starved for cash—still publishers are doing everything short of passing out free copies on the street corner to get you to read them.
Sampling by way of cut-rate, even free subscriptions, even in flush times, is an old sales gimmick, the thinking being that you'll love that issue of Cigar Aficionado so much you'll pay real money once the trial is finished. Certain titles whose readers have proved especially loyal never had to play those giveaway games.
Not anymore. I just received a promotion via snail mail, urging me to cash in my fast-expiring Hilton Honors points for free magazines. Granted, across several titles the exchange rate isn't exactly favorable. It takes many hotel visits to accumulate just a couple of thousand points, and yet a dozen issues of Sports Illustrated Kids command a steep 3,000 of them. A year of the weekly Time magazine goes for 3,600, as do 24 issues of Food &Wine. Just 26 issues of People will set you back 6,000 points.
On the flip side, there's the bargain basement club.
A year of Condé Nast Traveler can be yours for a mere 300 points. The same goes for Entertainment Weekly, also GQ, Allure, Golf Digest, People StyleWatch, Essence, Money and W.
But most surprising of all is the hallowed Vogue—a full year of which costs you a measly 300 points.
When the most fashionable, loftiest magazine in the business is giving itself away, you know things are getting ugly.