Amazon Sells Digital Subs, Publishers Gain Global Access

Embattled publishers got some good news: Amazon’s launch of a new service selling online subscriptions, including digital magazines and newspapers, gives publishers access to its vast online retail customer base as a potential audience.

The new marketplace, “Subscribe with Amazon,” allows the subscription seller to create a customized detail page with product images, offering digital subscriptions, with the option for tiered pricing schemes where necessary.

The seller can also offer inducements, including free trials or introductory prices. Under the terms offered at launch, subscription sellers receive 70% of the sales revenue for the subscriber’s first year, rising to 85% for each subsequent year.

The Subscribe with Amazon storefront showcases relevant subs, including big sellers, new arrivals and limited-time offers. Amazon is also touting automated marketing widgets to help surface subscription offers, including its recommendations engine, and similarity and discovery features.

Subscribe with Amazon launched with digital subscriptions, including The Wall Street Journal,  Chicago Tribune and The New Yorker. It also sells subs for a variety of digital products and services, including Fitstar exercise classes from Fitbit and cloud storage firm Dropbox.
In order to qualify for Subscribe with Amazon, the subscription seller’s product must be an app, Web site, or software.

The launch of Subscribe with Amazon gives publishers direct access to its global customer base of over 1 billion consumers, including 54 million members of Amazon Prime, a paid membership offering special discounts and services.

Amazon’s foray into digital subs comes as publishers are increasingly the mercy of big technology platforms such as Facebook, Google and Apple, with some signs of a growing backlash.

In one telling development, several major publishers have pulled out of Facebook’s Instant Articles, due to dissatisfaction with its monetization model, including The New York Times and The Guardian, while many publishers are complaining their Facebook audiences have shrunk due to changes in its newsfeed algorithm.

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