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Though digital magazine circulation has increased significantly in recent months, it remains a mere one percent of overall circulation, Ad Age reported last week. A group of five major publishers is hoping Next Issue Media, a company launching its full-feature product tomorrow, can change that.
In a rare move, these five publishers have collaborated to sell multiple titles from a single digital newsstand. Hearst, Conde Nast, Time Inc., Meredith, and News Corp. have all invested in Next Issue, which first launched in beta last May.
Since then, the company has expanded its digital newsstand app to 32 titles, including such household names as People, Real Simple, and Esquire. The startup, which has offices in both New York City and Palo Alto, is currently focused on “the titles that everyone reads,” according to CEO Morgan Guenther, a former president of TiVo.
Next Issue is predicting that consumers want to access all titles in one place, similar to the way they watch television and movies on Hulu and Netflix. And the company designed its new pricing structure with this prediction in mind. In addition to selling single magazine issues and subscriptions, Next Issue will offer two unlimited monthly packages. Unlimited Basic will sell all monthly and bi-weekly titles for $9.99 per month, while Unlimited Premium will also include weekly titles for an additional $5. Guenther expects these monthly packages to appeal to magazine enthusiasts and families.
Today, Next Issue has tens of thousands of customers who read an average of two magazine titles through the app. The company does allow customers to access content for free if they already have a print subscription. Though Guenther declined to say what percentage of customers are authenticating their print subscriptions, he did say that this option is a “big hit, people love it.”
Next Issue’s potential audience is currently limited, since the app is only available on tablets running Android version 3.0 or later, but the company hopes that will soon change. It plans to submit to the Apple App Store in the coming weeks and expects to be available for the iPad later this year.
Next Issue is not the only instance of collaboration between major publishers. Ongo, a company that aggregates and curates news content for a fee, has raised funding from publishers including The New York Times, Washington Post, and Gannett. Free digital newsreaders abound as well. Yet despite the popularity of free apps such as Flipboard and Pulse, Guenther firmly believes consumers will pay for Next Issue. “We’re focused on premium content,” he said, “content that’s not available for free on the web.”
Next Issue launched in 2009 and has raised an undisclosed amount of funding to date.