Today the Lost Coast Outpost is pleased to launch the Internet’s newest feature: Does This Suck? This will be where the Outpost takes a very close look at some new service or product offered to Humboldt County residents and makes the call — does it suck, or does it rule?

Here’s your first installment.

WHAT IS IT? The Humboldt County Library announced today that it is offering free digital downloads of over 100 different magazine titles. It’s doing this in conjunction with the NorthNet Library system and Zinio, a tech company that bills itself as “the world’s largest news stand.”

WHICH MAGAZINES? Surprisingly good selection, actually! We count 120 titles currently on offer, with presumably more to come, covering all sort of subjects and aimed at every level of taste and sophisticationeverything from The New Yorker to High Times.

MAYBE YOU WANT TO GO AHEAD AND GET YOUR SHITTY STAFF PICKS OUT OF THE WAY? Alphabetically, and apart from the aforementioned: The Atlantic, Cricket, The Economist, Esquire, Mother Jones, National Geographic, Popular Mechanics, Smithsonian, Vanity Fair, Wired.

WHY IS THIS A DEAL? A lot of this stuff you can’t get otherwise without coughing up cash. For instance: Try reading The Economist on its website, and you run smack into the paywall after just a couple of articles. With this you can get not only the current issue but the most recent 12 back issues, free, with just a click.

IS READING A MAGAZINE ON YOUR PHONE A TOTALLY MISERABLE EXPERIENCE? Despite the impressive titles on offer, and despite the attractive price of $0.00 with a Humboldt County library card, your Lost Coast Outpost fully expected this thing to suck hard. This is because Zinio delivers its magazines in the dreaded “flippy-PDF” format so loathed by everyone everywhere, in which the text, pictures and ads on your screen are laid out to replicate those of a print product, forcing you to pinch-zoom on each bit of text you want to consume and generally turning the act of reading into a tedious chore.

We downloaded the latest issue of the Economist to our tiny, cracked Samsung and headed out to pizza for a lunchtime test drive. We flippy-paged our way to the table of contents and noticed – first good sign – that the articles inside were hyperlinked, meaning we could zip directly to articles of interest. We landed on the Lexington column, which this week discusses what the portrait of William McKinley in Karl Rove’s new book has to say about current Republican presidential primary.


Pinch-zooming onto the first column, we soon discovered that the text could not be made to fit the width of the screen at a legible font size. So we read with thumb planted firmly on the screen, scrolling right and left to complete each line. Only when we reached the second column did our eye fall on the “TEXT” button at the bottom of the screen. Problem solved! When you click “TEXT,” it turns out, Zinio app will lay out the article in a sensible fashion – that is to say, as a web page.


HOW DO I GET IT? Really easy sign-up process. Click here. Browse the magazines on offer. If you like what you see, pull out your Humboldt County library card and click “create new account” in the upper right. Fill out the forms. You’re in. You can start reading right away, right there on your computer. To read on the go, download the “Zinio for Libraries” app to your iPhone, iPad, Android or Kindle Fire device.

OVERALL VERDICT? Doesn’t suck at all! Totally worthwhile. Thanks, Humboldt County Library!