Hearst Magazines, publishers of titles such as Elle, Esquire, O Magazine, Popular Mechanics and many more have made a fascinating change to their distribution strategy. They are now offering their titles on their respective iOS apps before they are seen in print. Obviously the delay in printing makes this possible but it’s clearly a move to get people to use the iPad versions of their magazines. The economics of this situation make it the most interesting bearing in mind you’re giving 30% of your revenue to Apple as part of the usual revenue split. Also, bearing in mind that digital mags are cheaper than their print counterparts the mind boggles at the costs of printing and distribution for regular magazines.
According to All Things D:
Looking for a reason to buy an iPad edition of a magazine? Hearst hopes this will do the trick: Readers who buy the publishers’ titles from Apple’s Newsstand will get them before anyone else — on or offline.
This feature appears to have popped up today, and there doesn’t seem to be any other details about the offer, like the number of days in advance that Newsstand buyers will get their iPad editions. I’ve asked Hearst for more information.
The length of Newsstand buyers’ headstart “varies”, depending on publication, and that the offer applies to single copy sales as well as subs. As far as the deal’s origins: “Apple suggested this initiative, and it’s a great offer they can provide to their newsstand users. We’re always working with our retail partners on unique ways to drive consumer sale and engagement.”
Right now, Hearst is the only publisher offering the option, for 22 of its titles. An Apple rep says it will be happy to let other publishers try the same thing.
The general consensus: Tablet editions are a nice revenue stream that in some cases brings publishers new readers, and in others helps them hang onto existing print subscribers, via online/offline bundles. But they’re not enough to save many publishers from the decline of their print businesses — a reality that Time Inc. staffers are bracing for as they get ready for long-reported and significant layoffs.
Print is going to be a niche, secondary medium soon.