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Ordering Magazines Thru 3rd Party Subscription Services VS Ordering Directly From The Publisher

How to save money on magazine subscriptions.

Ever wonder what the real difference is between ordering a magazine subscription direct from the company (or publisher) versus ordering through a 3rd party magazine subscription service?

I recently ordered 2 different magazines on the exact same days… one was ordered directly through the publisher, the other was via a 3rd party service.

Here’s what I learned…

About My Subscriptions

Actually, my mom ordered these magazines for me.

…as a Christmas gift.

On the exact same day (December 15, 2006) she placed 2 separate orders with 2 separate companies.

  • One was Log Homes Illustrated, ordered directly through the publisher. (Actually, she ordered it online through the Log & Timber Homes Network website and I have verified that those orders are directly through the publisher.)
  • The other was Timber Frame Living, ordered through Magazine City, a third-party magazine subscription company (aka “The web’s largest magazine subscription source”).

When You Receive Your Magazine

The only real difference between magazines ordered through publishers vs through 3rd party subscription services appears to be the timing of when you actually receive your magazine.

In my case:

  • I received my first issue of Log Homes Illustrated in early April of 2007.
  • I received my first issue of Timber Frame Living in late August of 2007.

Again, both were ordered on the same day in December of 2006.

Timing Is Everything

The only other interesting thing is the fact that the 3rd party magazine company didn’t even charge my mom’s credit card until April, 2007 — 4 months after she placed the order! (Which led her to question this unexpected charge on her credit card, since it had been so long and she had actually forgotten about ordering something through them.)

I decided to call the folks at Timber Home Living to see what was up and why it had taken so long for me to receive my first magazine for a subscription that was ordered 8 months ago.

The lady (who worked for the publishing company at Timber Home Living) was very nice on the phone and tried to be helpful right from the beginning.

She said they hear things like this all the time. People who order through 3rd party companies typically expect to receive their magazines within a few weeks. But it just doesn’t happen that way. She said the 3rd party companies have anywhere from 60 to 120 days before they have to place the order with the publisher, legally. That’s how they get the reduced rates.

In my case, the order arrived (from from City Circulation/Magazine City) on the publisher’s desk at Timber Home Living on July 19, 2007. That’s way beyond the 120 days… more like 210 days! So I guess we could have taken it up with Magazine City if we really had an issue with it. But I figure as long as I get my full-length subscription at the rate my mom was quoted, then everyone is still happy.

For the record, the lady at Timber Home Living’s publishing company said they began processing my new subscription right after they received it from Magazine City on July 19th. And I received the very next issue that was in the print rotation (mailed August 15th).

Pros & Cons

So… it sounds like the 3rd party subscription companies get to offer a “lower rate” than the publisher IF they submit orders only a few times a year — say, after they collect a few hundred orders at a time or something — rather than submitting the subscriptions to the publisher one-by-one, as they receive them.

That means that hundreds (if not thousands) of people experience a long delay between the time they actually place the order and the day they receive their very first magazine.

Apparently, as in my case, you might also experience a delay of 60 to 90 more days between the time it takes the 3rd party company to cash your payment and when they actually send your order onto the publishing company.