In another historic milestone for electronic publishing, Time Inc. has announced that it will sell iPad subscriptions of all its publications through Apple's online Newsstand, including Time, People, Sports Illustrated, and InStyle. Until this point, Time was one of the most prominent publishers to resist offering such subscriptions.
The magazines have been sold in iPad editions almost since the popular tablet was launched, but only as single editions. Previously, readers could subscribe to specific print versions, and then validate those print subscriptions to get access to the electronic editions.
Initially, Time was among the publishers that had objected to Apple's terms, which stipulated that the technology giant would not share subscription information it obtained through the iTunes App Store with the publisher. That appeared to be a deal-breaker, since it broke the essential connection between the publisher and subscribers.
The apparent solution to this issue is that Time will adopt a method used by Conde Nast and Hearst, where subscribers are asked to optionally provide their information right after they purchase subscriptions in the apps. If they don't, they might be prompted again when they try to access certain features, such as bookmarking.
A survey from the Association of Magazine Media has indicated that 66 percent of tablet users would choose to share their personal information, if they were able to receive advertising that is more relevant to them.
There are some reports indicating that Apple may have softened its position, as it faces increasing competition in e-publications from Amazon, Google, Barnes & Noble and others. Time told news media that "Apple understands our needs as publishers, and we feel confident we can manage our subscriber base well." The deal is the first major one by Laura Lang, who became CEO of Time in January.
90 Percent Renewal
The digital versions will be priced the same as the print versions, and subscribers to print editions will also get access to digital ones.
Vice President Perry Solomon, who manages emerging platforms business development at the company, told news media that, in the last year or so, the publisher has found that "new consumers love to be introduced to our products through tablets." He added that as many as 90 percent of subscribers are interested in renewing their online subscriptions.
Other Time magazines to be offered through Newsstand include Coastal Living, Cooking Light, Entertainment Weekly, All You, Essence, Fortune, Golf Magazine, Health, InStyle, Money, People, People En Espanol, People StyleWatch, Real Simple, Southern Living, Sports Illustrated for Kids, Sunset and This Old House.
Each month, the publisher's magazines are read by more than 110 million Americans, and about 50 million unique visitors go to its Web sites. The Apple Newsstand offers more than 5,000 magazines and newspapers, and has more than 5 million customers. According to Apple, most of those customers buy subscriptions instead of single issues.