Magazine Readers Have Little Appetite for Binge-Reading Buffet

[responsive]nextissue-subs[/responsive]First there was Next Issue, then came Magzter, both offering subscription-style all-you-can-binge digital magazines.  And the magazine reading public was not impressed.

“It is an idea that, on the surface, sounds like a sound business model that would appeal to fans of magazines,” notes Mary Hiers in “But in reality, Next Issue Media has struggled to break the 200,000 subscription mark and it looks like the Netflix of magazines is not going to find long-term success.”

We thought the same when Paresh Dave of the LA Times reported that “the all-you-can-consumer model of content distribution…made popular by Netflix and Spotify is set to infiltrate the magazine industry.”

In reality, nobody is going to be the Netflix of magazines.

While on the surface it might seem to appeal to magazine fans, the price point lacks value, notes Hiers.

“It sounds like a great deal, until you really start thinking about the magazines you actually read on a regular basis. If you are partial to reading Sports Illustrated and Time Magazine, then you would only have to pay $69 per year for app subscriptions to those publications. That means you are essentially wasting $111 per year for magazines you would never read,” she explains.

Price aside, there’s a discovery issue, noted by Matthew Ingram in GigaOm.

“One of the main reasons why people like to use Spotify and Rdio and Netflix and similar services is that they make it easy to find new content, whether it’s by sharing playlists or by using algorithm-driven recommendation engines,” he writes.

“There is nothing similar in most of the NextIssue-style services, and so they essentially force you back into old-fashioned behavior — namely, browsing through magazines, flipping virtual pages,” Ingram says.

Strike three is the content itself. Digital magazines are still largely in their PDF infancy, making them challenging and unappealing to read on tablets or smartphones.

“There is a great deal of work to be done,” admits David Hicks in his Tablet Designer blog. Add to this recent declines in tablet sales and digital magazines are not in a happy place.

Three years in, and how’s Next Issue doing?

“No one has heard of us,” acknowledges Morgan Guenther, the company’s chief executive officer to Bloomberg Business News’ Joshua Brustein.

So much for the buffet. Seems magazine readers are a bit more discriminating.