The Magazine Industry Bundles Up

The troubled magazine industry may be salvaged with the Next Issue app, described as the “Netflix of magazines.” The app bundles over 100 titles from publishers Condé Nast, Hearst Corp, Meredith, and Time Inc. The app has existed for over a year now, but it was in the news today because it is spreading to Canada.

For ten dollars a month, users can subscribe to unlimited access to new and back issues (from 2012 on) of such popular monthly magazines as Vanity Fair, Rolling Stone, Esquire, GQ, Cosmopolitan, and dozens more. An additional five dollars a month grants access to weeklies such as The New Yorker, Time, Sports Illustrated, and Entertainment Weekly, to name a few. The only down side is the only compatible devices are iPad, Android tablets, or Windows 8 devices. You’re out of luck if you use Kindle, Nook, Windows 7, or Mac.

It is not known exactly how well Next Issue has done financially so far, but it shows a promising alternative to the traditional way of enjoying magazines. Consuming magazines digitally eliminates the cost of printing and shipping them, the most significant expenses for publishers. Readers benefit for being able to conveniently access a wide selection on-demand for a single subscription price. Everybody wins. This could be the future of magazines, as long as it expands to include the bestselling e-reader Kindle Fire (which price was reduced to just $139 this week) and non-Windows 8 laptops.

Print magazines aren’t going anywhere in the near future, recent research by the Pew Research Center concluded that only 6.6 percent of revenue comes from digital, 40.5 is from print circulation, and 52.9 percent comes from advertising. A different study showed that roughly one-third of new tablet owners use the device to consume news.

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That percentage will only go up as tablets eventually become as widespread as laptops. The Next Issue app is the latest paradigm of media convergence that is hurting and helping the news industry simultaneously.

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