We all know that books and book-selling are being heavily impacted by the world's move to digital. The same thing is happening to magazines. If you love turning those glossy pages, read about this new form of digital magazine subscriptions. It is poised to rock the world of magazine editing.
Over the last few years we have watched while the move to digital has caused a complete transformation of the music and camera industries. Companies like Kodak who couldn't adapt lost their lead in their industries. Others struggled to adjust making major changes to their businesses models to accommodate the new digital world.
The shift to digital has also greatly impacted the book, newspaper and magazine industries. As a magazine lover, I have watched the magazine industry with great interest. While the cover prices of magazines have remained stable, subscription prices have plummeted. Magazines like Allure and Better Homes and Gardens which sell for $3.99 an issue on the newsstand can be had for a yearly subscription (12 issues) of $10. Similar prices can be found for many other of today's popular magazines.
Right now, some of these magazines also offer digital magazines to their print subscribers at no extra charge. For instance Real Simple and Allure offer a digital edition for the iPad that comes with your subscription. These versions display the entire magazine including the full page colorful design, and all articles and ads.
And now there is a new effort to move the magazine industry to the digital world in an enticing way. Five large magazine publishers Condé Nast, Hearst, Meredith, News Corporation and Time, Inc. have joined forces to create an App called Next Issue that lets you read an unlimited number of their magazines in a digital format on a tablet. They have also enhanced these digital editions, with special videos, bonus photography and some interactive features. The App is currently available for Android tablets running Android 3.0 or higher. The magazines are optimized for both 7" and 10" tablets. Currently a few of the magazines are only available for one of those two size tablets, but eventually they will all be available for both sized tablets. There is also an iPad app in the works.
For $10 a month, you can read the latest issues of 27 monthly magazines, which include All You, Allure, Better Homes and Gardens (10" only), Car and Driver (10" only), Coastal Living, Conde Nast Traveler, Cooking Light, ELLE (10" only), Esquire, Essence, Fitness, Fortune, Glamour, Golf Magazine, Health, InStyle, Money, Parents, People Style Watch, Popular Mechanics, Real Simple, Southern Living, , Sports Illustrated Kids, Sunset, This Old House, and Vanity Fair. You can also read back issues to the beginning of 2012. For an extra $5 a month, you can add several weekly magazines including Entertainment Weekly, People, Sports Illustrated, The New Yorker (7" only), and TIME. More titles are promised to be added in the next few months.
The pricing seems enticing at first. You are certainly getting a lot of titles for your money. At current magazine.com prices, I could subscribe to the print editions of Better Homes and Gardens, Car and Driver, Elle, Fortune, Popular Mechanics, and Real Simple for about $91 a year and many of these have free digital editions that come along with the print subscription. Using the Next Issue service I would get all of those plus many more for $120.
However, there are many nagging questions. For instance: How many magazines can a person read? Is reading a magazine on a tablet really as comfortable and satisfying as leafing through those glossy pages with your fingers? And what are the drawbacks to reading magazines on a tablet? I decided to find out. Next Issue has a 30-day free trial. I have a 10" Android tablet. So I just signed up with Next Issue. For the next few weeks I'll be turning the pages of more than 30 magazines with my finger. Then I'll be back to let you know if I think this dramatically different digital subscription model is a winner or a flash in the pan.