Monday, May 30, 2011

Conde Nast....Well Done !

Condé Nast began offering in-app subscriptions for iPad versions of Allure, Glamour, Golf Digest and Vanity Fair on this month. The publisher began offering The New Yorker iPad subscriptions just a week earlier, marking the first time it has used Apple’s new in-app subscription system. (1)

It took a few months, but the publishers finally woke up and noticed that there was coffee brewing in the kitchen.  When I purchased my iPad a few weeks ago I was absolutely shocked to find the staggering prices of the electronic versions of magazines.  $4.99 per copy?  No ink!  No sweet smelling perfume cards dropping out of the center page, no useless coupons for cut rate pricing on yearly subscriptions?  No, this was just the electronic copy of the magazine.  Naturally, I wanted to see what all the fuss was about so I purchased one.  And yes, it was very good.  Excellent navigation and excellent content.  But $4.99 per copy?

The reviewers on iTunes lambasted Conde Nast and others for essentially gouging the consumer.  I totally agreed with their sentiments.  The age of electronic media was supposed to decrease the price of distribution for the creator and this was supposed to be reflected in the final pricing to the consumer.  Until last week, this began to look like the Wild West, with publishers attempting to find the pain point for consumers.

But the magazine publishers may have arisen due to what has happened in the e-Book arena.  The eBook publishers still haven't figured out that $9.99 is the point of no return (although Amazon did very early on); anything above that leaves a reader with an option to purchase the hardcover version of the book.  Surprisingly, although being first to the table, e-Book publishers are still learning or should I say testing the waters to find that pain point.  Unfortunately they may have waited a little too long, because the e-Book authors, buoyed by Amazon predominantly and a number of new all electronic publishing houses (Zumaya Publications for example),  have found ways to undercut the $9.99 model and sell their products for $0.99 to $2.99.  Some authours have even taken to self-publishing their works,  bringing down the price to gross up to  60-70% profit.  While this may seem like small change, if an author can show volume across the channels with low pricing, some authors can essentially quit their day jobs.  Ask Amanda Hocking, a self published author, who sold over 1 million copies of 9 e-Books, grossing over $2 million in sales in just over 1 year.   This self-publishing phenom penned a hard-cover 4-book deal with St. Martin's Press for a young-adult paranormal series to be called "Watersong." For this she will receive $2 million.   Her Amazon e-Books are selling for $0.99 - $2.99.  Weblink here.

With negative reviews, and probably seeing the carnage that has become the e-Book market, Conde Nast has finally stepped up to the plate and possibly saved the day for magazine publishers throughout the world.   They have finally lowered the pricing on individual publications, but more importantly, they have created subscription pricing.  And the prices are more reasonable than they previously were.  They started with The New Yorker, which was incredibly and ridiculously overpriced at $4.99 per issue (an obvious fishing expedition), ending the hate by offering a print/web/ipad bundle for $69.99/yr; while an iPad and web edition is now $59.99/yr.  There is also a monthly option of $6.99 for the former and $5.99 for the latter.  The New Yorker is a weekly publication so this comes out to about $1.50 per issue.  Not Bad! 

Adding to this, Conde Nast came out with additional iPad subscription plans for  Allure, Glamour, Golf Digest and Vanity Fair.  All of these publications are using the In-App system by Apple.  I want to tip my hat to Conde Nast for essentially coming to the table and thinking reasonably about their pricing.  Some may think that the prices are still too high; you may be right, but I do believe that magazines need to stay in business and it is important for them to come to the table in the New Age of media with a plan that shows a decrease in the price that consumers have to pay.  It is the only way that adoption can take place.   It is only a matter of time before all of the other magazine conglomerates, who were salivating at the $4.99 looney-tunes price point come around to subscription pricing as well.

  But for now, I tip my hat to Conde Nast.  Next stop, addressing the looney tunes pricing of medical and educational e-Textbooks.