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Conde Nast Brings New Yorker to IPad with a Subscription Model that is Starting to Make Sense

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On the one hand you could simply say, it’s about time. On the other hand in the treacherous world of protecting business models that are at risk of fading away you should say, this looks like progress.

When Apple unveiled the iPad everyone who was anyone who had any contact with the media/publishing world thought that the iPad (and of course other Tablets that would be coming) would be the savior of, well, just about everything that had to do with the publishing industry. It’s taken awhile. And there are several well chronicled reasons for that, including shoehorning the publishing model into the way that Apple insists on doing business.  But it looks like Conde Nast has figured out what others are still having a hard time struggling with. Obviously it is still early, here, but I’m impressed with what I see as Conde Nast’s model.

Conde Nast is unveiling The New Yorker for the iPad as the first of its publications due to roll out on the platform. Others are promised soon. Here’s where the difference is. The price for an iPad subscription is $5.99 a month or $1.50 an issue. A yearly subscription is $59.99 which is $10 less than the $69.99 subscription price you pay for the print edition. Print subscribers get the iPad edition for no extra cost. If you just want to try out an issue you can still do so for what the price used to be, $4.99. Other publishers look to be following along with similar models. While the price point is obviously a key, it addresses more than dollars and cents. It actually addresses what I think is a fundamental psychological or semiotic key to the entire transaction. Simply put, consumers (whether correctly or no) assume that the cost of a digital publication should be cheaper on an iPad or other mobile device than the corresponding print edition.

The New Yorker is an excellent choice to see if this works or not, given that it usually appeals to an upscale readership and it has a very loyal subscriber base for the print publication.  I’m guessing we are going to see some other experiments and efforts here in the next few months, and I’m also guessing that it will be several months down the road before we know how this might all shake out.

Via All Things Digital

Warner Crocker is a professional theatre director, producer and playwright and also a Tablet PC enthusiast. He is also a Microsoft MVP for Tablet PCs. Send email to Warner. You can follow him on Twitter or Google+

1 Comment

  1. Anonymous

    05/09/2011 at 11:08 pm

    I could not agree with you more, Warner, that it is a psychological sticking point about the price as compared to print.

    I believe it because I feel it myself.

    I know there is a cost associated with the servers and back-end of digital publishing.

    But I absolutely refuse to believe this is as high as physically printing, storing, and transporting actual print copies. Not to mention the cost of producing more than what you sell or even – not enough.

    Digital always provides perfect economy in that regard. You always have just enough for what people want to buy. No extra copies and never too few made.

    The layout and publishing should cost no more or less for one or the other.

    Another big problem I think a lot of traditional publications have is too high a value on their own self worth.

    As with anything, it varies from particular to particular.

    But many companies seem to think (much like hollywood) that problems with their sales are strictly to do with business issues or cultural shifts and have nothing to do with their own declining quality.

    Most published magazines and newspapers don’t provide anything better than I can find on blogs online.

    The reporting isn’t deeper, the insights are not more insightful, the writing isn’t funnier.

    Nothing.

    The difference – their product is dated as it’s only published once a month or week or day, and I have to pay for it.

    The blogs are updated constantly and feed themselves on advertising.

    Now, of course, not every blog is great.

    Just as not every traditional publication has become less than great.

    It may well be difficult to judge the effectiveness of this new model with “The New Yorker” though as it has such respect as a publication.

    I might be willing to pay for it where something else maybe not.

    That might be the case even for something which traditionally has been viewed well.

    “Food & Wine”, for instance.

    Well respected magazine – but why do I need to still pay for it in any form when the web is chock-full of very, very, very good food/cooking blogs?

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