On Magazines

I was reading the latest issue of Wired this morning, and with the mention that the title is starting to gear up for its 25th anniversary (in 2018), and with Monocle just last month celebrating its 10th anniversary, it made me realize how loyal I tend to be to magazines I really like.

Not only are these magazines part of my very small pile of regular reads — along with Entertainment Weekly, which celebrated its 25th anniversary a couple of years ago — the other thing that these three titles share is that I’ve been reading all of them since the very first issue. For all of them, there have been very short periods where I may have fallen off for a few issues — mostly because of big changes in my life, like moving to Asia (China, and then Japan) — but it’s still interesting to see how loyal I’ve stayed to these titles.

I say that these are the only three titles I regularly read, and that’s not to say I don’t read any other magazines — I love a lot of indie titles, I still listen religiously to Monocle‘s The Stack podcast about magazine publishing, and would like to be reading titles like Edge and Time regularly, but for the former I can’t find print copies in Montreal and dislike the PDF-like digital edition, and for the latter I don’t want to buy the print edition and also dislike the PDF-like digital edition. In fact, I do most of my magazine reading digitally (I’ve been reading Wired and Entertainment Weekly digitally ever since they launched their iPad editions), and so there’s only Monocle that I read in print — sure, it’s because they don’t offer an iPad-edition, but to be honest, it’s also a beautifully produced paper product that I love holding in my hands.

There’s not real point to this post other than to say, shit, I’ve been reading these magazines for quite a while now.

Timely Nintendo

Time went a bit nuts this week with great Nintendo coverage, starting with an interview with Nintendo President Tatsumi Kishima, an interview with Nintendo Director Shinya Takahashi (with lots of fun Wave Race trivia, a game I constantly wish would get updated), and this piece about the Switch. And for a bit of fun, there’s this 51-question segment with Shigeru Miyamoto and Eiji Aonuma from Game Informer.

Digital as Expensive as Print to Produce?

To produce? Maybe for the content itself (although for the most part, content is shared between the two), but one of the biggest selling points for going digital is to save on printing costs and distribution. I do still have problems with some of the points this piece from Forbes brings up though on the content production side of things. I get that producing videos for a digital edition adds costs, but the idea that including more photos in the digital edition also raises costs is ridiculous — we’re just getting to see more from a shoot, the parts that usually end up on the cutting room floor.

The question of bandwidth could be an issue, but really, is there actually an alternative to releasing magazines for the iPad than through the iTunes App Store? The article gives Zinio as an example, suggesting that all magazines sold through that device are doing it through its own servers. Is Apple really not getting any cut from sales that are done through the iPad app though? If so, then I guess we can expect to see the release of a Conde Nast (or Time, Inc., etc.) app, that will house all of its magazines.

Update: A reader suggests that the point about the photos is not so ridiculous, considering that most photographers are paid for each photo published. I assumed they were paid for the shoots.

Newsweek for iPad Introduces Subscriptions

It’s about time! Newsweek has just updated its iPad app to introduce subscriptions, which means that we’re finally seeing some interesting pricing on iPad magazines. Newsweek was already offering cheaper prices than the competition at $3 per issue (the Time Inc. weeklies are all $5 an issue), but with the two new available subscription options things are getting VERY cheap. Right now you can get a 12-week subscription for $10, so 80 cents an issue, or a 24-week subscription for $15, at about 60 cents an issue.

The only thing for me is that I’d much rather read Time at this price, but I’ll probably buy at least one issue of Newsweek to sample it. I do hope that subscription options start popping up more though — over to you Condé Nast and Time Inc.

Time, Inc. Overcharging iPad Magazines in Japan

Even though I rather like the way Time magazine is presented on iPad — at least the way it was back in June when I purchased an issue — my biggest gripe has always been the pricing. I just feel that $5 an issue is not good business, and it will never make sense to match the pricing of a print edition with the digital one. So because of that, I haven’t purchased any issues since that first one (to check out the design), and I’m still hoping that they’ll come to their senses and come up with a new pricing structure.

But today I got curious as to what they were charging for issues if you access the app using a Japanese iTunes account, and was shocked to see that individual issues are 600 yen, which at today’s rate is about $7.20. Are they serious? The exact same digital product, which is simply downloaded from a site, gets a 30% price hike in a different region?

And it gets better. I checked to see what the pricing on other Time, Inc. titles were in Japan, and not only do Fortune and Sports Illustrated go to 600 yen, SI even has an issue priced at 700 yen. Sure, it’s a football preview issue, which was probably bigger, but even the one issue of Time I bought (pictured top, a World Cup preview) was a double issue and it was priced normally.

What’s wrong with these companies? In comparison, the Bonnier Corporation (Popular Science, Popular Mechanics, etc.) does a bit better. Although the latest issue of Popular Science is priced at 600 yen, all previous issues are priced at 350 yen ($4.20). As another comparison, Wired charges 450 yen ($5.40), which is not as high as the others, but still a price hike compared to the US price ($4).

Instant Satisfaction

It’s Saturday evening, I’m at home relaxing on the couch, chilled beer at my side, flipping through my iPad, and I’m suddenly in the mood to read a new issue of something. I pop in the GQ app, buy the latest issue for $3. Instant satisfaction.

This is exactly why publishers need to get on the iPad as soon as possible. It’s not about appearing progressive because you’re “embracing” the digital medium or the — mistaken — fact that your audience may prefer reading digital publications over print. It’s about getting those people who are lounging somewhere, and want instant satisfaction. We’ve seen with the success of apps that people are very willing to pay $1 or $2 for just about anything without thinking much about it. I’m not particularly a huge fan of GQ, but I wanted to read a magazine, and right now I’m still limited in what I can get — I already have all the Wired issues, and although I like Time, I think it’s priced too high so don’t want to support them.

I want more magazines on iPad, and I want them now.