Next Issue Media, a consortium of five major publishers, has released app editions of seven magazines in the first visible step toward the digital storefront for print that it was formed to deliver.
Time Inc., Conde Nast, Hearst, Meredith and News Corp.created the consortium in late 2009 to try making the most of tablets on the way from Apple and other manufacturers. The publishers wanted, among other things, a marketplace where they could promote and sell digital editions on their own terms. That marketplace is now expected to appear in the fourth quarter of this year, according to Morgan Guenther, a former TiVo president who became CEO of Next Issue Media last June.
Starting to sell apps under the Next Issue banner, however, was a necessary step along the way. So today the consortium began offering Time, Fortune, The New Yorker, Esquire, Popular Mechanics, Fitness and Parents in a new "magazines" section of Verizon's V Cast store on the Samsung Galaxy Tab. Issues of Next Issue app editions are for sale individually or by subscription, with special pricing for existing print subscribers.
"It's our first release in a series of releases over six months that will culminate in the storefront," Mr. Guenther said. "Over the summer you'll see us add more titles and devices so that by the fourth quarter you'll see us offering our unified marketplace, which will offer a consistent user experience across all titles and unique features like cross-title search, personalization and flex pricing."
Publishers are building the actual apps and formatting their content for device screens, while Next Issue handles duties like negotiating with device makers and carriers, processing consumers' credit cards and developing best practices.
Consumers have bought many more Apple iPads than tablets that run on Android like the Galaxy Tab, but it's unclear whether and when Next Issue will start selling app editions for the iPad, Mr. Guenther said. "You've got to start somewhere," he said. "Android is going to be a significant platform and significant player. We felt that it was a little easier from a business perspective."
Apple's terms for subscriptions sold through its App Store err on the side of keeping subscriber information away from publishers, but Next Issue will be "very friendly for publishers when it comes to data on consumers," Mr. Guenther said.
"It's very exciting to us to have a newsstand storefront that's really customized to the needs of magazine publishers," said Liz Schimel, exec VP at Meredith Digital Media. "We're excited to be doing this initial launch."