Next Issue Media, the consortium formed by five major magazine publishers to help manage the transition to digital distribution, unveiled a preview of its forthcoming "digital newsstand" on Wednesday.
In the preview version, the digital newsstand is available exclusively on Samsung's Galaxy Tab 7.0, with sales handled by the Verizon Wireless VCAST store. However, the consortium plans to introduce a standalone app compatible with a broader range of devices sometime in the second half of 2011.
NIM was formed in 2009 by Conde Nast, Hearst Corp., Meredith, News Corp., and Time Inc. with the goal of creating a shared digital newsstand to scale up digital content consumption. The digital newsstand preview gives users access to a handful of major titles from the consortium, including Fitness, Esquire, Popular Mechanics, The New Yorker, Time, Parents and Fortune.
Magazines are available through subscriptions as well as single-issue sales, and publishers are making the digital content available for free or at a discount to people who already subscribe to the print editions. Visitors to the Next Issue Media Web site can also sign up to receive email alerts telling them when a particular magazine has become available in digital form.
While the preview is only available for the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.0, Apple may be the key player when it comes to tech partners, due to the popularity of its pioneering iPad tablet devices. Indeed, the timing seems to suggest NIM was waiting for Apple to work out the details of digital magazine subscription sales through its App Store, publishers' own sites and magazine apps, before introducing the digital newsstand (which eventually aims for compatibility with all devices).
In February, Apple unveiled a digital subscription model that relaxed its previous prohibition on disclosing consumer information to publishing partners by agreeing to share the name, email address and Zip code of those who subscribe to digital content -- provided that customers consent.
Apple also made an important concession by allowing publishers to sell iPad magazine subscriptions through their own Web sites, or from within the magazine apps themselves, while keeping a larger percentage of the revenue. This has been followed by a wave of new subscription services for digital magazines on the iPad.
Last week, Conde Nast was first in the pool with sub sales for the digital edition of The New Yorker, and subs for other titles including Glamour, Vogue and Vanity Fair. Hearst Corp. is scheduled to debut its first iPad subs for the July editions of Esquire, Popular Mechanics and O, The Oprah Magazine in June. Apple also struck a deal with Time Inc. that allows the publisher to deliver free digital editions to iPad owners who already subscribe to print magazines. The deal will make digital editions of Time, Fortune and Sports Illustrated available.
Earlier, Apple and Time struck a similar deal for People.