The path to a digital conversion may not be without obstacles. Next Issue’s pricing options are expensive, at $120 per year for a “basic” subscription to 34 publications, and $180 per year for the “premium” version that includes the five weekly magazines; if users plan to read only a few of the titles offered, it isn’t an economical choice. Also, the Apple Newsstand has been criticized in the past for its lack of accessibility, as Apple claims 30 percent commission on all subscriptions and requires that digital subscriptions be managed through the Newsstand itself, rather than through links to external sites. Apple also has the final word on which publications’ apps are approved for sale within the Newsstand, and this process can be lengthy. A final hurdle is that publishers must continue to attract advertisers, while desirable subscriber data is growing harder to track than in the past. (This was much of the reason that Time, Inc. held out for so long before offering their wares in the Newsstand.)
As more publications master the art of digitizing both affordable subscriptions and the advertising to sustain them, the iPad could prove to be the device that revitalizes magazine journalism.