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Update - 14th May 2015 - Today I cancelled my subscription to The Spectator on the Kindle. Not because I didn't still read it every Thursday, or that it was no longer good value compared to the cost of the print/on-line version (that I have now swapped to for reasons that will become clear). I cancelled subscription because I was frustrated at the number of articles that seemed to be missing from the Kindle version. This week it was Rod Liddle's column; on other weeks it have been different columnists or sometimes entire features. Add in the fact that you never get any of the occasional supplements (e.g. Life) that the Spectator produces and suddenly the value and convenience of the Kindle version has, for me, become outweighed by the substandard content.

That is why I have added this update to my original review, and why I have knocked a star of my rating. My original observations below still stand. In fact, having reread the review I would add the fact that the formatting issues I identified are pretty much a thing of the past now and if you read the Kindle version on a tablet or phone app you now get much of the artwork that was previously missing back in 2010, so it is an improved product in many ways.

However, if you're thinking of picking up the Spectator through your Kindle you should be aware before subscribing that what you will be receiving may be a substandard product compared to the print and on-line versions and a Kindle subscription doesn't give you access to any missing articles through the Spectator website either (that requires a direct subscription via the magazine.

Original Review - November 2010 - Face it, in its current form the Kindle is never going to be a great platform for reading most magazines. You certainly wouldn't dream of reading any publication where one of the main selling points is its photographic content. I can't see Vogue, Hello, National Geographic or Homes & Gardens ever taking off on device which can only offer black and white, e-ink facsimiles of photographs. Even publications that are less reliant on imagery are going to be a hard sell on the Kindle. One of the pleasures of picking up most magazines is the combination of words and pictures; in fact the content of many magazines simply wouldn't pass muster without the images that accompany the text.

There are however, a few exceptions to this rule and The Spectator is one of them. If any magazine came ready made to be read on the Kindle then its 'The Speccy'. Beyond a handful of cartoons and the odd image of an artwork, the only pictures in the print version of the magazine are found in advertisments. Since the latter are omitted from the Kindle version very little is lost in the conversion from printed page to e-ink.

The articles, as they're never intended to rely on the support of images or graphics and which are unchanged from the print version, lose none of their impact on the Kindle. The straightfoward layout of the printed magazine (i.e. articles following each other consecutively with very few breaks or sidebars) also lends itself to easy conversion to the Kindle.

There is the odd niggle about formatting. 'Spectator Notes' and the 'Diary' for example, could both do with the insertion of blank lines to delineate between sections. On the whole however, each edition (and I've subscribed for nearly two months now) scans smoothly once you get used to some slight rejigging in the running order of articles compared to the printed version.

Some readers may miss the cartoons. Personally I always found them to be a mixed bag and I'm not that sorry to see them left out, but equally I can't see why they have neen omitted. As they're nearly all small, pen and ink and black and white efforts they should translate easily to e-ink. There may be copywrite issues at work but whatever the reason its a bit of poor showing to leave them out entirely.

If you're not a fan of politics, finance or reasonably high-brow arts coverage then The Spectator, whether printed or electronic, will probably not appeal. The same applies if you're not keen on reading content predominantly written from a right of centre perspective. If however, you want some thoughtful writing on UK politics, society and the arts and you want it delivered to you weekly where ever you are in the world then The Spectator on the Kindle pretty much ticks every box. At £ 2.99 per month, advert free, its pretty decent value too.
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on 31 October 2010
This is a review of the Spectator magazine as it appears on the Kindle, not of the magazine content.

The magazine arrived promptly every Friday, seamlessly downloading to my Kindle.

I was looking forward to reading this magazine on the Kindle & it was the first subscription I bought once my Kindle arrived. Unfortunately, it does not read in an interesting way. As you open the magazine, it arrives at the first page of the first article. I then felt that so as not to miss any articles that I needed to read the magazine in a linear fashion, like a book. It was difficult to read as I would have hoped, for instance I would have liked to be able to read first the articles that interested me the most, but the menu structure makes this too difficult.

I'm not entirely sure that the magazine format suits the Kindle, unless some work could be done on the menu system. Perhaps the magazine could open to a menu first, showing the various sections, but also detailing under each section the various articles. Each article could then display a tick or progress bar to show what has been read.

I am disappointed in this format, as I was very much looking forward to reading magazines on my Kindle.
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on 12 March 2011
One of the USPs that convinced me to buy a Kindle in the first place was the ability to have magazines sent to my portable device wirelessly and at a lower cost than the paper-based equivalents. Unfortunately the reality is that a lot of Kindle based magazines provide less content and only a small cost saving when compared with their traditional formats. However, after reading The Spectator for several months now, I am very happy to say that this magazine is one of the exceptions. The recent firmware update to the Kindle (latest version) makes navigating the sections even easier than before. As for the content, this contains most of the same articles as the standard print editions, but in particular it is the lack of adverts that makes this a more enjoyable companion on my daily commute to work. Being able to clip articles and Tweet highlights are two novelties that haven't yet worn off. The political tone of the writers is generally right of centre, which may or may not be to people's tastes, but then the free trial subscription should help them to decide.
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on 25 September 2010
The Spectator always has interesting comment, so the idea of always having an up-to-date copy on my Kindle is attractive. Whether I'll keep up the subscription, I'm not sure yet.

All the main content is there - though not in the same order as in the magazine. The thing I really miss is that the cartoons are absent! I usually get a chuckle from several of those in the printed copy, so the magazine is definitely impoverished by omitting them in the electronic edition.

There is a table of contents, if you want to find particular content, or you can just leaf through it as if it were the (oddly re-ordered) magazine.
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on 22 August 2010
Assuming all the content is present and correct, this new price is a good deal for an electronic version of the Speccie. The iPad/iPhone version is a fiver a month and the implementation on those platforms is absolutely rubbish -- they've done little more than simply scan the pages of the printed edition.

Update: Most of the main content of the printed magazine is there, just not (as Eric Morecambe would have said) in the right order. "The Week" should come first, per the print edition; perversely it comes second after "Features". It might seem like a very minor carp, but to a long-standing Speccie reader (we fear change) it's irritating. I hope this is addressed in future issues. Otherwise, very good value versus the iPad/iPhone and printed editions.
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on 17 March 2011
I enjoy reading this on the Kindle and the price is good. BUT, although I can live with not included images, this exclusion can also includes textual figures such as tables, which when discussed in articles can make the pieces frustrating to read.

Although the reason for not including images in order to reduce data costs is understandable, I do wish that they would be available for download over a wifi connection.
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on 14 December 2011
After coming to rely upon my subscription to The Times, which definitely exceeded my expectations, I thought that it was high time to look into a political magazine. The free trial allowed me to get to grips with the digital version of The Spectator.

It was a very pleasant surprise. With the newspapers on Kindle, there are frequently problems with formatting, wrongly placed captions, and even the odd 'continued on page x', I had been worried about having similar problems with other publications. It seems that the team at The Spectator puts a lot more effort into the construction of their Kindle product; coupled with the quality of the writing, this makes it an exceptionally pleasant product.

The price is fair, the content never fails to entertain, and it is very easy to navigate between sections. I am delighted with my subscription to The Spectator and have no plans to cancel it.
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on 8 December 2012
I love the Spectator, but now that I have moved over to an all-singing, all-dancing Kindle Fire I can no longer get it, there not being an app. apparently. One would have though that with the seemingly unlimited resources of Amazon and the more finite resources of the Spectator that a way could be found so that such as I no longer have to endure withdrawal symptoms now that the Spectator is no longer available on my new toy.
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on 22 August 2011
I have taken the Kindle version of the Spec for a month now, and cannot really fault it given the limitations of the Kindle format itself. I now much prefer Kindle format to the paper magazine - to which I also subscribed for many years before it was taken over by the neocons. I can't understand the references to the poor format, since the paper magazine has hardly any pictures. But I do miss the cartoons which do not appear. But to balance this, there are no ads. Highly recommended.
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on 5 March 2012
For some unknown reason, I get my Kindle copy of the Speccie delivered 3 days before the print version. It took me a couple of issues to realise this, but then the race is on to finish it before it mysteriously disappears from the device (unless 'kept', of course)and I get served with the following week's copy!

This is a fun magazine and so much cheaper than the print variety (OK, so they miss out the graphics and the puzzles, but I can live with that.)

The contributers are excellent and between Taki, Melissa and Jeremy I can see all sides of life!
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