The Next Attempt To Satisfy Your Cravings For On-Demand Books And Magazines

We already pay subscriptions to watch the movies and listen to the music we want. Now, publishers are experimenting with all-you-can-read services too.

All the world's entertainment is becoming a buffet. We pay to stuff ourselves monthly with all the movies and TV shows on Netflix and Hulu, and millions of music tracks on Spotify and Pandora. But when it comes to reading our favorite magazines on phones or tablets, there are few options outside the pay-per-issue model. There’s just no good way to get your fill of different magazine articles without shelling out between $1.99 and $9.99 per download, which can add up quickly.

That's the problem Next Issue Media is trying to solve with Next Issue, a digital-magazine app that lets users pay a flat fee to access dozens of titles each month from the five major publishers that comprise the joint venture including Condé Nast (Vogue) and Hearst (Esquire). The all-you-can-read app, which launched for Android in April and is available for the iPad starting today, offers two options: a $9.99 basic subscription plan gets you 34 titles a month, including Vanity Fair and Wired; a $14.99 plan gets you five more titles, including The New Yorker. By comparison, a subscription to The New Yorker's digital edition alone will set you back $60 a year.

And e-books may be going the same way soon. Today TED launched an iOS app version of its existing TED Books, which originally sold mini-titles as Kindle Singles on Amazon. The iOS app still offers individual books for a sweet $3 apiece, but the neat feature here is a new subscription option: For $14.99 per three months, the app will automatically download a new title once every two weeks, for a total of six mini-books. 

Both Next Issue and TED Books are healthy signs that stalwart publishers are shoring up and experimenting with solutions that can benefit readers while simultaneously putting a stopper on the money-bleeding publishing industry. New content formats and platforms continue to pop up all the time, from content-meets-commerce magazine Lifestyle Mirror to the throng of curated news reader apps including Pulse, Flipboard, Zite, and News360. And the more magazine and e-book options that crop up, the better: A recent Online Publisher's Association study found most tablet users have purchased some form of digital content, with magazines making up the 10% majority of sales.

[Image: Flickr user John Blyberg]

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