Presumably the cost of printing each issue is A + (B x N), where A and B are fixed amounts and N is the number of copies being printed. Thus printing 100000 copies is cheaper (per copy) than printing 1000 copies, since the value of A is "shared" over more copies.
I ran this by a friend of mine who owns a printing company. He agrees but also says assuming there is still a significant number of magazines being printed that the actual difference per print is not that great and it is more the cost of initial setup and labor which plays the most important factor...The math on that part is clear.
However, at the same time what you lose on the printing costs dont you also recuperate on shipping, storage, transportation etc? I imagine those total costs are much higher in per unit cost than printing. Is it enough to go pdf? I guess that is a question Richard must ponder...But remember that there is already another problem immediately on the table which is how to handle the change in postal delivery to foreign subscribers. Who will eat those cost? How will the new delivery change my being able to receive a magazine in a timely fashion? Will that cost later be past on to me in the form of higher subscription cost? Are there other magic magazines going digital, if so what are they charging for digital format to their subscribers and how will that play out in terms of competition? Being one of those GENII subscribers based in Italy, I would readily pay for pdf format for several reasons. First and foremost, I wouldnt have to wait for a hardcopy issue to arrive 3 to 4 weeks after its US distribution like now. Sometimes wondering if it will ever arrive at all. Next I would not necessarily be adverse if extra advertisement were placed in pdf as this would have no effect on my shelf space.Perhaps this increase in pdf advertising could offset the increase in per unit hardcopy printing costs. Finally, I imagine as GENII is already a well established publication,if done properly and with the right copy protection in place and marketing, there could be actually an increase worldwide distribution without the worry of fluctuation in exchange rates, logistic and transportation costs, changing postal rates. etc. As a side thought, depending on what country the file is physically being sent or downloaded from(servers)would also have an immediate impact regarding taxes on profit. And if done from the right countries ,little or no taxes at all ;)
Finally I do also like the suggestion of printing and mailing outside of US therefore bypassing the instability of US postal rates altogether but there again you still run the same risks and perhaps even greater than you do operating in US.
Just a thought.