Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Hearst Tries a New iPad Pitch: “Read Them Here First”

Hearst iPad Read Them Here FirstLooking for a reason to buy an iPad edition of a magazine? Hearst hopes this will do the trick: Readers who buy the publishers’ titles from Apple’s Newsstand will get them before anyone else — on or offline.

This feature appears to have popped up today, and there doesn’t seem to be any other details about the offer, like the number of days in advance that Newsstand buyers will get their iPad editions. I’ve asked Hearst for more information.

[UPDATE: A few more tidbits, via Hearst pr's Alexandra Carlin: She says the length of Newsstand buyers' headstart "varies", depending on publication, and that the offer applies to single copy sales as well as subs. As far as the deal's origins: "Apple suggested this initiative, and it’s a great offer they can provide to their newsstand users. We’re always working with our retail partners on unique ways to drive consumer sale and engagement."]

Right now, Hearst is the only publisher offering the option, for 22 of its titles. An Apple rep says it will be happy to let other publishers try the same thing.

This looks like the first time any publisher has tried an early digital “window” for their magazines, anywhere. Hollywood has recently warmed to the same idea when it comes to selling their movies online.

Bigger context for the tweak: Magazine publishers, who were once giddy about the prospects of selling their titles via the iPad, have sobered up.

The general consensus: Tablet editions are a nice revenue stream that in some cases brings publishers new readers, and in others helps them hang onto existing print subscribers, via online/offline bundles. But they’re not enough to save many publishers from the decline of their print businesses — a reality that Time Inc. staffers are bracing for as they get ready for long-reported and significant layoffs.

Earlier this month, Hearst Magazine boss David Carey told his employees that the company had reached 800,000 paid digital subscribers by the end of 2012. We’ll talk to him about where he goes next in a few weeks, at our D: Dive into Media conference. See you there …


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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald