We've heard whispers that the powers that be have been working on a bulk subscription service for magazines. Now, they're finally delivering it. Next Issue offers users a very Netflix-like subscription service that includes unlimited access to current and some older issues of a selection of magazines for $10 a month. Or, for $15 a month you can get a slightly bigger selection of magazines. Yes, it's tiered.
At the moment, the selection is particularly small, though it does offer quite a few big name magazines. In that way it's sort of the opposite of Netflix, which tends to have a wide selection of movies and TV shows you've never heard of. Once you download the app, you can add your favorite magazines to the app's home screen.
The interface is pretty clean and, while reading, it gets out of your way, allowing you to thumb through the digital pages without interference. However, thankfully, the app does also augment magazines in a helpful way. While not every magazine has implemented this feature, it is possible for publishers to let users jump straight to cover stories by tapping on them. This marks the first time in history that cover stories have been easy to find.
The payment plan is where things get a little weird. Next Issue still offers individual digital magazine subscriptions for a small fee, if you want pick and choose. The new system, however, offers two tiers of unlimited plans: for $10/month you get a selection of 27 magazines. If you want Entertainment Weekly, People, Sports Illustrated, The New Yorker, or Time, however, you'll pay $15/month. It seems odd that they would cut subscriptions in half so clearly along content lines, but at least the service is up front about which content falls where. Hulu Plus? Please follow suit.
It still feels like digital magazines are a bit of a contradiction. The essence of magazines are periodical visual and written content, and what better platform exists for distributing that type of content than the web? Still, there's a huge amount of culture and experience in the magazine world that, old guard or not, still has yet to adapt to the new world. Hopefully this will result in more future-looking magazine content ending up in our hands.
In the meantime, what do you think? Is a small monthly subscription fee enough to get you to read digital magazines on your tablet? Or are you just going to stick to reading blogs?