Harper’s is one of America’s oldest magazines. It has a broadly progressive and liberal stance and after a sticky patch in the early 1980’s, it has been notably enterprising in its publishing with the current management. Harper’s has now produced an archive of its 157 years of monthly back issues. PaidContent has a note about this. The archive is available to all current print subscribers. I could not see an option for ‘electronic only’ access, but if you reside in the USA you can have access to all the back issues and 12 months of the current publication through the post for $16.97. This seems like a pretty good deal. PaidContent also contrasts the Harper’s approach — of bundling in access to the archive with a current subscription — with the New Yorker‘s decision to make its memory stick or CD-based archive a separate subscription option.
It is clever of Harper’s to allow anyone to search its archive for free (you will only see thumbnails of the PDFs unless you have a subscription), and we reckon that most magazines will gain more by offering a full archive as a subscriber benefit, rather than trying to develop a separate set of subscriptions to an archival service.
Interesting also, that the magazine had help from Cornell University Library in scanning its first 49 years. Getting good quality scans is now harder work than digitizing them or getting the whole kaboodle properly web-searchable. Old magazines were often printed on poor quality paper and are friable, fragile and hard to handle. We look forward to doing our first century archive — but will trust the publisher and friendly librarians to organize the scanning.