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Time Inc. Begins Offering Digital Magazine Subscriptions in Newsstand

As noted by AllThingsD, Apple and Time Inc. appear to have settled their long-running differences over digital magazine subscriptions, with Time launching iPad-only subscriptions for its magazines through Newsstand. According to a press release from Time, the offering addresses all 20 of its consumer magazines, which include Fortune, People, Sports Illustrated, and Time.


Time was prepared to launch iPad subscriptions for Sports Illustrated two years ago, but Apple refused to allow Time to bill subscribers directly rather than going through the iTunes Store mechanism where Apple would keep 30% of the revenue and limit publisher access to subscriber information. As a result, iPad users were initially limited to purchasing titles on a single-issue basis.

Nearly a year later, Apple and Time reached an agreement to allow print subscribers to receive free access to the iPad editions of the publisher's major magazine titles. But digital-only subscriptions remained off the table even as other major publishers such as Hearst were accepting Apple's subscription terms and rolling out their own offerings.

AllThingsD notes that it is unclear what changed between Time and Apple to now allow full-fledged digital subscriptions, including whether Time simply relented or if it was able to obtain some concession from Apple.
It could be as simple as Time Inc. trying to boost sales, which haven’t been stellar recently — a slump at its People magazine title is particularly troublesome for the publisher. Or perhaps parent company Time Warner got some other concession from Apple for one of its other units, like HBO or Turner.
Digital subscription pricing for Time titles varies, but a flagship title like Sports Illustrated is being offered at a $3.99 monthly rate or a $38.99 annual rate, a significant discount from the $4.99 single-issue pricing for the weekly magazine.

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Top Rated Comments

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30 months ago

Am I one of the few that still doesn't use Newsstand?


I think the majority don't use it. I keep looking at iTunes o see if anything pops up that want to subscribe to, but its a lot of fringe/garbage magazines. I just don't understand why digital editions of newspapers & magazines cost as much as print when they have nowhere near the production and distribution cost.
Rating: 6 Votes
30 months ago
Am I one of the few that still doesn't use Newsstand?
Rating: 4 Votes
30 months ago

Am I one of the few that still doesn't use Newsstand?


Nope. I think there are a few who still don't. I have it for just a few magazines that are not offered via zinio. I like it, no complaints. Wish the prices were a little better than their printed version. But that is for another topic. :)
Rating: 4 Votes
30 months ago

Ummm, Apple is adding a 30% right off the top as a new cost. The magazine's business model is based upon getting 100% of the net price of the magazine. Yes, some of that 100% goes to printing & distribution but traditional printing & distribution delivery doesn't involve giving Apple 30%.


If, as a publisher, you publish a hardback or paperback novel priced at £9.99, Waterstones (as an example) will not pay a penny more than 50% of the cover price to buy it from you, And, in a lot of retail chains, including the larger franchises of newsagents, the same applies. Consequently, Time will get nowhere near 100% of the net price for a printed magazine, more like 50% (the newsagent pockets the rest), plus they STILL have to fund printing and distribution. Consequently, Apple only taking 30% starts to look very inviting indeed.
Rating: 3 Votes
30 months ago
I think these digital subscriptions would attract more readers if prices were lower. They seem to be using old school pricing strategies, as though people valued a digital version as much as the traditional print. But they generally don't. There is so much digital content out there that most people just jump between free sources and still have too much to read.

People also don't keep digital files like heirlooms or collector's items like they might have for older print magazines.

Digital magazines would be much better off pricing these as the throwaway experiences they are. People will flip through and then move on. As such, I'd probably only pay $0.99 for monthly subscription. But at least they'd get something. As it is, I wouldn't pay $4.99 or $3.99 for any of this stuff and I suspect most people wouldn't either.
Rating: 2 Votes
30 months ago

Ummm, Apple is adding a 30% right off the top as a new cost. The magazine's business model is based upon getting 100% of the net price of the magazine. Yes, some of that 100% goes to printing & distribution but traditional printing & distribution delivery doesn't involve giving Apple 30%.

Or, another way to think about this: if Apple took 5% or 10% instead of 30%, the pricing offered to us could be cut by 20-25% and Apple could still make money being a digital distributor for these companies. 30% of gross is a LOT of new cost.


I'm pretty sure the real newsstands take the standard 30-40% retail markup....
Rating: 2 Votes
30 months ago

I was just wondering. The only magazine I read from time to time is Reader's Digest, but I get the print version of it in the mail.


I second that, I can still subscribe to most magazines for $6 a year (Details, Spin, Fast Company, GQ, etc...) and a little more for weekly ones, why would I pay 1000% more just to see it on my iPad?
Rating: 2 Votes
30 months ago

I just don't understand why digital editions of newspapers & magazines cost as much as print when they have nowhere near the production and distribution cost.

How is the production cost for a magazine like Time drastically reduced? Moving to digital distribution doesn't reduce the cost of producing content (sending reporters & photographers across the globe, fact checking, copy editing, etc.,) and the cost of producing content is much more expensive than printing and shipping a physical magazine.

It's like with digital downloads of movies. If a movie cost $200mil to make and $70mil to market the cost savings of a digital download vs stamping it onto a plastic disc that costs $0.15 isn't dramatic.


Lethal
Rating: 1 Votes
30 months ago

I think the majority don't use it. I keep looking at iTunes o see if anything pops up that want to subscribe to, but its a lot of fringe/garbage magazines. I just don't understand why digital editions of newspapers & magazines cost as much as print when they have nowhere near the production and distribution cost.


Volume. The price will eventually come down when the numbers go up. You have to make $X amount to produce something. They sell enough paper at current prices to produce and distribute them and make a profit (shrinking as it may be). Digital uses different layouts not to mention media types, so you need people to make that happen. Publishers need to start making a profit before they'll be willing to drop prices. This isn't Microsoft, they can't use one cash cow to fund another, as they're original money maker is sinking as well.
Rating: 1 Votes
30 months ago
I could buy Parents Magazine for around $20 a year for iPad/Digital subscription.

Or via a nice deal I found, buy the print version for $12 a year, getting 2 extra years for FREE and it comes with the digital version.

So, rather than pay $20 /year digital
I am paying $4 /year digital and with a paper version if I want to read while someone else is on the iPad.


as far as SI subscription I thought it was high but after reading here I see it is comparable.
Rating: 1 Votes

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