Condé Nast, Hearst make strides to improve digital magazine costs

May 9, 2011
Tech

Although Hearst Corp. may have been the first publishing giant to strike a deal with Apple (for current subscribers anyway), publisher Condé Nast has one-upped the competition with today’s announcement of its new agreement with Apple. Last week Hearst announced it had reached a deal with Apple to provide digital subscriptions to its titles through […]

Although Hearst Corp. may have been the first publishing giant to strike a deal with Apple (for current subscribers anyway), publisher Condé Nast has one-upped the competition with today’s announcement of its new agreement with Apple.

Last week Hearst announced it had reached a deal with Apple to provide digital subscriptions to its titles through the in-app purchasing system. Beginning with the July issues, customers can snag year-long subscriptions to Esquire, Popular Mechanics, and O The Oprah Magazine, for $19.99 apiece. Currently, Hearst-produced digital issues range from $3.99 to $4.99 each, so the $19.99 price tag, or $1.99 per month adds up to savings. That’s good news for subscribers interested in digital issues only, but the deal doesn’t address the needs of current print subscribers.

In contrast, Condé Nast’s new Apple deal will now offer The New Yorker to print subscribers free of charge. This is a big move favoring consumers, and a gesture that will likely pay dividends in retaining print subscribers. Customers interested in a digital-only subscription to the magazine will pay $59.99 per year (down from $4.99 an issue to a reasonable $1.27 each),  but the price is at least $10 less than its print companion.

This isn’t the case for Hearst’s titles. Although the company is offering a wider selection than Condé to start, its pricing is laughable if you know that Esquire is available for $8 a year and Popular Mechanics for $12. O, The Oprah Magazine is close at $18 per year, and, yes, these prices are from the official websites not discount companies.

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Both companies still have work to do: Hearst in its overall pricing and support for current subscribers, Condé Nast in its title availability. Yet these negotiations prove that magazine publishers are committed to making digital work and embracing iPad as a viable platform.

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