After months of talks with publishers, Apple is said to be close to announcing a magazine subscription model for the iPad.
Both sides have been haggling over the issue for months, and rumors of an announcement have been swirling the past several weeks. Still, one publishing exec said that now, “People are pretty confident.”
It’s not known which titles would launch the new model or the details of the model, which is believed to be a few weeks away from being announced. “Nobody’s got any real answers,” another publishing source said.
Most magazines are at their core subscription businesses, and publishing execs like Time Inc. CEO Jack Griffin have taken a hard line, arguing that it’s critical that they be able to collect personal information like names and e-mail addresses from digital customers, so they can offer renewals and other products.
Apple also reportedly wanted to require an opt-in form to collect the information from consumers, which publishers have balked at. It’s presumed Apple would also keep its customary 30 percent of the revenue.
Magazines had big hopes that the iPad would help their struggling print business. But despite the initial hoopla around the device, consumers have balked at paying single-copy prices for magazines on the iPad, and most titles’ download numbers have been small.
Publishers have been able to offer iPad subscriptions in limited cases. People magazine made its digital version free to print subscribers. Newsweek sells a subscription version but isn’t able to collect information on its consumers. Apple has allowed titles to sell subs through digital newsstand Zinio.
Meanwhile, publishers are looking beyond Apple to expand their digital distribution. They have been talking to Google about selling subscriptions on forthcoming Android devices, while publisher consortium Next Issue Media said it planned to open its own digital newsstand in the first quarter.