Fortune has a report on why iPad issues of magazines cost more than the same issues in paper format. On the iPad, TIME Magazine and Popular Science cost $4.99 each—as opposed to paper subscription prices of 35 cents or $1 per issue respectively.
Why do they cost so much? It turns out that people are willing to pay that much. Josh Quittner, TIME’s editor at large for digital development, writes in a blog entry:
Yes, the Time Magazine app costs $4.99. The rationale: The app offers 100% of the print magazine, plus photo galleries, video and other iPad-only goodies. While the pricing was not my decision, and I opposed it, I was wrong: It turns out to have been a smart move. While I’m not allowed to say how many copies we’ve sold to date, I can tell you it’s sold about 10X what I had predicted to my peers. (Admittedly, I had predicted a small number. Still, I was shocked by how wrong I was.) Advertiser enthusiasm was even more surprising—clearly, they, too, see that the tablet gives them a bigger, richer canvas than the Web. And they need to understand how to use it as much as we do.
Fortune notes that the price per issue will come down soon; Apple will be making changes to the iTunes store to allow magazines to offer subscriptions. But the prices will still be higher than paper versions.
On a related note, Peter Kafka at All Things Digital’s “MediaMemo” reports that Adobe has been working with Condé Nast to rewrite their Wired Magazine app into an Objective C version consistent with Apple’s new development guidelines, rather than the cross-platform Flash version they had been building before Apple’s development-tool restrictions came out.
As Kafka says, while this does mean all the time and effort spent developing the app has not been wasted,
The bad news is that the whole point of the Condé Nast project was to create a platform that publishers could use once to produce digital publications that would work on a range of platforms. Now those hopes have been dashed.