Reading the E-Leaves: The future of magazines on digital devices is beginning to take shape.
Wired magazine has adopted a similar approach to development. Anderson described an "authoring-centric" approach whereby photographers, writers and designers are involved throughout the process, allowing them to "conceptualize stories in an interactive mode from the beginning."
Selling the Public on Digital Content
While Apple currently does not sell subscriptions through its app store, alternatives are beginning to emerge, such as Zinio's recently announced subscription service through its online newsstand. As for pricing models, approaches range from utilizing apps as a value-add for print subscribers (Time Inc.'s approach thus far with its People magazine app) to charging more for a highly interactive app compared to a print version, to charging significantly less.
Renard believes that the days of looking at digital versions of magazines as adjuncts to lift circulation numbers are over. "We can and must look at this platform as a paying platform," he says.
Howie Fenton, senior consultant at The National Association for Printing Leadership (NAPL), believes tiered pricing can work across print, digital and combined print-digital subscriptions, but strongly advocates the position that digital subscriptions should cost less.
"Who's going to be looking at the electronic version alone? I suspect there will be two demographics: pioneers that are e-only people and young people," Fenton says. "Look at kids graduating high school now or college now. That … demographic is most likely to want the electronic version only and are not willing to spend more than the paper version. They are going to wait for the price to come down."
He says he subscribes to newspapers through his Kindle and is "willing to pay $10 to $20 a month to get the e-version. It seems like a no-brainer to charge a very reasonable price for the e-version alone."
Norris believes publishers with premium products will be able to get people to pay. "However," he notes, "they will not be able to match the [readership] figures of those who offer [iPad magazines] for free. … New companies and mags spinning off indie websites and blogs will either be ad-funded or charge a standard app price of [less than $2]." (See the article "Want to Charge for Digital Content?" for more on successful pricing strategies.)