The Insane American Magazine Business Model is Back with a Vengeance!September 12, 2011
What if I tell you that over the weekend I ordered 201 (Two hundred and one, I had to spell it out so folks won’t think it is a typo) issues of 18 different magazines published by Hearst Magazines and paid less than 45 cents an issue? A total of $90 dollars guaranteed me an entire-year- subscription to all but one magazine from the Hearst Magazines stable of magazines. The one exception, missing from the list, is one of the few major success stories of a new magazine launch in the last five years: Food Network magazine. This is insanity at its best. A year of Cosmo, the number one selling magazine on the newsstands for $5.00. Same can be said about the remaining 17 magazines offered at this “pre-holiday price for one week only!”
And Hearst is not alone. Condé Nast is offering its print magazine subscribers free access to its digital Apps. on your tablet. Condé Nast magazine subscribers are reminded the minute they pick up their magazines from the mailbox that “You’re missing out! Your print subscription includes access to (insert magazine name)’s iPad version- at no extra cost.” Great and thank you. However, I have a problem now because I bought a new iPad and every time I try to access the free Apps, I am reminded that I have an account already and what I know is free, I have to buy. I tried emailing customer service to solve this problem and all what I receive back is details on how to enter my account number and sign in. I even deleted the Apps from my older iPad and still to no avail.
Well that is not the end of the story. I also received emails from Condé Nast asking me to renew my subscriptions to Wired and Vanity Fair. The offers give you the opportunity to give a one year’s free subscription to a friend, receive a gift and renew your own for one low price. What is going on? I recall the early years of Wired when the price of a subscription used to be higher than the cost of buying the magazine on the newsstands and there was no “bill me later.”
As an outsider watching our industry struggle to stay afloat, I plea with my friends at the aforementioned magazine companies and the rest of the magazine industry to stop committing suicide and later wonder why did we die. The business of counting customers have departed this planet on Sept. 2008. Let us get back to the business of customers who count. The Audit Bureau of Circulation must go back to counting subscriptions that count and not just counting. A penny paid for a subscription should not count as a paid subscription. Remember when paid subscriptions used to be at least half of the basic subscription price. Those were the days my friend and they have to come back. I know that is only one of the many problems surrounding the advertising driven business model, but we have to start somewhere. It is never too late.