See Spot(bit) Run

There’s no such thing as a free lunch…or a free magazine evidently.

Earlier this week, an item on, a daily industry e-newsletter reported on, a site that offers (offered?) free and complete e-versions of dozens of popular magazines in PDF formats. Among the periodicals are/were newsweeklies (Time, Newsweek, Macleans, and US News and World Report); fashion (Elle, Vogue); men’s interest (Playboy, Penthouse, Maxim), gadgets and technology, sports, and a few others.

Questioning the legality of the whole enterprise, the last line of the article asked how long it would be until the site was shut down.

The magazine publishers obviously caught wind of the too-good-to-be-true offerings. I browsed Spotbit on Monday and was impressed by the breadth of availability. By Wednesday, several publications were no longer available. Today (Thursday) every remaining magazine — and there aren’t that many — has a “coming soon” banner across the cover. Strangely, the only items currently available seem to be several months’ worth of a Wo, Chinese men’s magazine.

The owner’s of Spotbit seem to have had their hearts in the right place, even if their heads were who-knows-where. The following appears on the “contact” link for the site:

For Publishers: If the copyright license of any magazine belongs to you, contact us and we’ll remove it. However we will appreciate it if you can tell us how much money we have to spend to be able to offer your contents in our site. This domain may be gone, but we’ll keep trying, so please reply our letter

Maybe it’s just me, but the whole project seems to be the work of either non-Americans with a poor grasp of business acumen, adolescents, or perhaps both.

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