The problem with the sentiment expressed above, in my opinion, I mean, and I’m probably totally wrong (herein; IMOIMAIPTW), is that is makes it sound like Smashing Magazine was a charity which is on a pledge drive, and that it had nothing to gain from its relentless self-promotion.
I would like to say I fully believe they have the right to pull their content, replace it with a page asking you to buy their book, even put it back online behind a pay-wall, whatever; it’s their content. And I understand that the words above aren’t from a representative (though they are retweeted by Smashing).
That said, we-the-public have contributed to the community, retweeted posts, emailed them to friends, bought the book and championed them in our workplaces.
This promotion is as good as an exchange of services in my mind (IMOIMAIPTW): they provide ‘free’ content, readers provide ‘free’ promotion (and quality paid promotion is very expensive indeed), a segment of the readership like it so much that they buy services off the back of it, and advertisers pay them when free-loaders view the site.
Other established ‘free’ resources (blogs, howtos, royalty-free creative work) benefit from publicity, consulting side gigs, and improved chances of further or better employment. Even if you’re not “in it for the money”, it’s rewarding to have people consume the things that you’ve produced.
Obviously, there’s something wrong in the balance, because from the look of their posts Smashing are having a little trouble making all the ends meet up, and they’re trying to push revenue which is totally fine; but no one should undermine the important role that readers actually play.
Free magazines without a readership rarely last long.