Magazines to Offer Subscriptions via Text Message

subscribeviatext1Acquiring new subscribers has always been a huge cost of doing business in the publishing world. And the digital evolution has certainly provided some new avenues into doing just that, with titles like Vogue and Vanity Fair now available through Amazon.

The latest player in the subscriptions game? Your mobile phone carrier.

“Boku, a mobile payments company that works with Facebook and Sony, thinks text messaging can help magazine publishers boost their subscription revenue,” writes Michael Sebastian in Ad Age.

“The San Francisco-based startup said Thursday that it’s partnering with U.K. publisher IPC Media — owner of titles such as NME, Wallpaper and Horse & Hound (yes, it’s a real magazine) — on a mobile-payment system that allows consumers to subscribe to magazines via text message and charge the subscription to their phone bill,” Sebastian explains.

It’s interesting that this is being rolled out in the UK, where the majority of magazines relies more heavily on newsstand sales.

“Unlike magazines in America, where subscriptions comprise the bulk of their circulation, British magazines are generally more reliant on newsstand sales,” Sebastian notes, adding that Ray Ramillosa of Boku says “it could work in the U.S.” although he refused to confirm if any state-side publishers were planning to roll it out.

This convenience comes at a cost, naturally.

“Of course, teaming up with third-party vendors like Amazon or Boku means publishers have to share part of their subscription revenue,” continued Sebastian, who also notes that the mobile provider gets a cut of the action.

In selling anything, eliminating a barrier to entry is always a good thing, so this idea might have some real legs. We’ll be interested to see how it develops and will watch for it in U.S. magazines too.