Four top US publishers, Time, Conde Nast, Meredith and Hearst, are to launch a digital newsstand company for publications in a variety of digital formats, according to a report. Hailed as an ‘iTunes for magazines,’ the new company and service will have the four rival publishers as equity partners. The New York Times quotes an anonymous source familiar with the deal, which admits that the publishers are eager to get more control over digital readership while print circulation continues to go down.
The move will provide a platform from which readers can purchase and read publications like The New Yorker or Sports Illustrated in print and electronic formats.
The digital newsstand is to have flexible payment options, allowing users to buy monthly or annual subscriptions, or single issues.
The publishers are working together to provide a variety of formats, for example iPhones, Blackberries, e-Readers and regular old pdfs.
Planned to be launched in December, the company is part of an effort to shore up decreasing circulation and advertising revenue by exerting control over digital distribution and readership.
Several newspaper publishers have expressed interest in the service as well.
“It’s increasingly clear that finding the right digital business model is crucial for the future of our business,” Ann Moore, the Time Inc. chairwoman, said. She added, “We need to develop a strategy for the portable digital world and to refine our views on paid content.” One hopes this change will reflect the general mood of the magazine and newspaper industry, the former of which has been remarkably slow in adopting digital trends.
This month Condé Nast became one of the first publishers to repurpose an entire magazine issue for the iPhone, selling a copy of GQ as an application for $2.99.
“We know that the world of digital is far grander than display advertising,” Charles H. Townsend, Condé Nast’s chief executive, said at a demonstration of the application last month.