Print Subscribers Rejoice: People Magazine IPad App Is Free for You

Existing Subscribers to Time Inc. Title Won't Get Charged Again

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NEW YORK ( -- Magazines have been aggressive about pricing their app editions for the iPad so far, charging consumers the full print cover price for the digital editions whether or not they're already subscribers -- and risking a nickel-and-diming image.

But People's new iPad app has arrived with a touch that existing subscribers will appreciate: The app is free for them. Entering their account number from the mailing label or their full mailing address will get them the iPad version gratis. "It's our way of saying thanks for being a valued print subscriber," the in-app storefront says.

Waiting to get the subscription verification in place was the reason that People's iPad app did not arrive earlier this month as originally planned, according to people familiar with the process, not a dispute with photo agencies that was reported this week.

Many publishers have alluded to combining pricing for their print and iPad editions, although it still sounds like they'd like to charge a premium for a combination of both. And so far the dominant model is to seek additional circulation revenue from the apps, even if an existing print subscriber is trying to check them out. People is part of Time Inc., but other Time Inc. iPad apps require print subscribers to pay separately for iPad editions. "We're looking at various subscription opportunities for all of our titles," a Time Inc. spokeswoman said.

"People subscribers pay a premium price for subscriptions and we want them to have the ability to consume the content however they choose," a People spokeswoman said.

Most monthly magazines charge little for print subscriptions -- on the order of $12 or often even less. Weeklies are more expensive, but People costs more than most. People subscribers pay an average of $116, according to its latest report with the Audit Bureau of Circulations. Subscribers paid an average of $89 for Sports Illustrated, by comparison, $60 for New York magazine and $60 for The New Yorker.

Publishers also want to sell subscriptions to their iPad editions, but so far Apple has stalled their plans by only permitting single-copy sales.

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