Monday, July 11, 2011

I Want an Uber-Magazine Subscription

I used to subscribe to at least 10 print magazines.  Now that's down to four.  Three of those four include free iPad app subscriptions if you're a paying print subscriber.  I don't pay for any other magazine or newspaper subscriptions for my iPad and I don't subscribe to any on my Kindle.

What's wrong with this picture?  When I bought my iPad I figured I'd sign up for all sorts of digital magazine subscriptions but it just hasn't happened.  Part of the problem has to do with ridiculous pricing models (see Wired, although they finally wised up and decided to offer free iPad access to print subscribers).  The other problem is every magazine is operating on its own and they're not coming together to leverage their collective strength.

Here's where Amazon has a huge opportunity.  Those four print magazines I subscribe to cost me about $100/year or between $8 and $9 per month.  I would gladly pay more than twice that much (at least $20/month and I might go as high as $25) if I could get all-you-can-eat access to a bunch of magazines.

Think of this like Safari Books Online, but for magazine content.  I pay a flat fee of $20 or $25 per month and I'm able to access the contents of several dozen magazines.  Individual magazines are paid on a pageview basis.  So let's say my subscription costs $25 per month and last month I was kind of busy so I only read a few articles from one magazine.  That magazine receives my $25 that month (less whatever fees the service provider charges).  Next month, maybe I've split my reading across three different magazines, so they split my $25 based on my usage of their content.

Let me set up a profile so the service knows my interests and can send me daily summaries of the articles that are likely to be most relevant for me.  The service should also learn from my habits, so even though I may not have said I'm interested in the Android platform, if it sees I read several Android articles every month it should add future Android article links to the recommendations it sends me.

This is part of Amazon's DNA.  They have a terrific recommendation engine and they leverage it every day.  See for yourself by checking your email inbox or see what pops up on the next time you visit their site.

I realize the biggest challenge in creating a service like this is magazine publisher resistance.  My reduction from 10+ paid subscriptions to four isn't unique though.  This is a market that's struggling.  The model I'm suggesting means publishers with the most read content will be the winners, which is exactly how it should be.

Here I am saying I'm ready to step up and invest more than twice what I spend today for magazine content.  Let's hope Amazon makes this happen.  It would be a terrific new service to go along with the Android-based tablet they're rumored to be working on!