I remember growing up JW. The Awake was the only thing I liked. The heavy duty biblical stuff (JW-style) was just too hard to understand. I'd rather read a "light" article on some penguin or farming techniques in Brazil than read about the modern-day <fill-in-blank> class. Sure, the info wasn't nearly as good as what you'd see on PBS or the Discovery channel about the same topic, but if I had to read it, it was a lot more tolerable. I'd suspect a lot of JWs and their householders are the same way.
I think this move can only do harm.
- Make it more biblical? That's exactly why I used to like it was that it was less biblical. Fewer JWs will want to read it. Or it will overload them.
- People need something that's not all bible, all the time. If they don't find it from the witnesses, they might watch real educational programs. This can lead to becoming educated and falling away.
- Householders don't want to read the heavier biblical stuff. That means less magazines sold & read, less people being duped, declining JW population, repeat downward spiral.
- The whole magazine pairing issue will be a constant source of confusion. The two have been paired forever.
- JWs will be less likely to do return visits with just the new Watchtower so it throws the whole 2 week schedule of a magazine route off. Less frequent return visits means it's harder to make a convert.
They may be doing it to cut costs, but it sounds like it will make a huge impact on the JWs by taking away something sentimental. And something that provides variety. It also hurts their preaching work. They've taken away, perhaps to cut costs, but haven't given anybody anything in a way of benefits to them. That means further decline!!!
Maybe the turn is to get away from the crutch. Their ministry has gotten complacent. It's a bunch of zombies walking around offering magazines and sometimes a book, week, after week, after week. Many of them don't even read the magazines and make presentations based on the cover alone. After all, any experienced JW knows what it's about without reading more than the heading. They aren't ready for any hard questions. Maybe this is a slow move to get them more educated on their beliefs and to stop using the magazines as a crutch.
Maybe they will offer books along with Watchtowers instead of Awakes.
The Watchtower may go monthly too. But that means packing a month's worth of Sunday studies into one article, making it even less attractive to any outsider. They may have to go with a larger magazine. Would printing a few more pages in one issue be cheaper than creating to seperate issues?