Apple Clarifies Subscription Models for Magazines as iPad Apps

Just when Quark has added the ability to create iPad apps for publications produced in QuarkXPress or Quark Publishing System, Apple’s model for subscribing to magazines through an iPad app continues to evolve…

A story at Publishing Executive (based on a blog post by Texterity) indicates that Apple will offer two ways for a consumer to purchase a magazine subscription through an iPad app. Consumers may purchase a subscription either directly through Apple’s store with one click, or through a link that takes them to the publisher of the magazine.

The pluses and minuses are these:

Consumers may be more willing to buy with “one click” through Apple because (as with all things in the iTunes world) they don’t need to have their credit card handy. However, Apple takes 30% of the revenue and the publisher has no way to collect demographic information about the buyer.

If consumers click through to the publisher’s subscription service, the publisher can collect demographic information, and keep 100% of the revenue. However, the buying experience is similar to any website purchase: get out your credit card, enter all your contact information, etc.

For now, Apple is requiring that publishers charge no more for the electronic version of the magazine than they would charge for the printed version — even if they provide both to the consumer.

Free, controlled-circulation publications can still offer subscriptions for free, as can organizations that include their publication with membership.

For more information on these issues, have a look at the Publishing Executive story here, and the Texterity story here.