Commentary

Google Brings Timely End To Subs Of 'Print-Replica' Magazines

Google News, the search giant's aggregator of publisher content, last week ended a service that let readers subscribe to digital clones of print magazines.

While the company didn't explain the reasons for the move in letters sent to subscribers, Google likely is acknowledging the "print-replica" format is difficult to read on smartphone screens.

The formatting may work on a digital tablet, but is unwieldy on smaller mobile devices that require readers to "pinch and zoom" to make text legible. Apple News+ faces a similar limitation for publishers that run PDF versions of their magazines on the iPhone maker's digital newsstand.

Google is offering refundsto subscribers on their last payments; it isn't allowing readers to renew subscriptions through Google News, according to the letter cited by Android Police.

The search company recommends readers look for a favorite publication on Google News, or subscribe directly on the publisher's website.

>For Google, the ending of print-replica subscriptions marks another shift in its strategy for magazine content. That started seven years ago, when it released the Play Magazines app to offer hundreds of titles from Bonnier, Condé Nast, Hearst and Meredith.

In 2018, Google combined its digital newsstand with the Google News app, bringing publisher content under a single umbrella.

Newspaper publishers have accused the company of unfairly benefiting from their content, a charge that Google has denied.

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