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US military stops carrying 891 paper magazines because of the internet

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Magazines Shutterstock
Magazines Shutterstock

The US military used to be one of the top subscribers of many fine American print periodicals, from such all-ages magazines as GamePro and Boy's Life to more adult titles, such as Playboy and Penthouse. But now the military has decided to permanently remove 891 magazines from stores shelves going forward, or 33 percent of its entire stock of magazines. Of the ones being shelved, 48 are adult titles.

The reason isn't due to a clampdown on prurient or diverting material, but rather steadily declining sales that the military notes can be blamed entirely on the internet. All magazine sales at military exchanges fell 13.8 percent between 2011 and 2012, and adult titles took the biggest hit of any category, down 86 percent since 1998, according to the Defense Department. "Like their civilian counterparts, [military] exchange shoppers' increased reliance on digital devices to access content virtually has resulted in a sustained decrease in demand for printed magazines," said Army Lt. Col. Antwan C. Williams, a spokesman for the Army and Air Force Exchange Service. So while many US military traditions have survived for a long time, it looks as though the printed word won't be among them for much longer.