Big Issue Disintermediates The Homeless With Digital Edition


Credit: The Chorizo Warrior

John Menzies may have shut its digital-edition magazine distributor in June, but that isn’t stopping rival Yudu Media from launching its own.

Chris Sheard, a marketing executive from Menzies’ site, jumped to Yudu upon its closure; former Times Online marketer Robert Elding has also joined. Now they’re planning something called Yudu Store, launching in September, a release says – though it’s unclear exactly how this will differ from the vendor’s existing web store.

The first magazine to use the store is an odd fit – The Big Issue, the printed magazine sold by homeless people, who earn £0.75 per copy. The title doesn’t even publish any web news, reserving its site for information and ordering printed back issues.

It’s unclear whether homeless people will get to operate their own digital-edition stores with Yudu – but we’re thinking probably not.

The magazine distributor Newsstand is also taking on Yudu Store.

Update: Yudu’s Chris Sheard tells paidContent:UK: “Yes, we are working with The Big Issue, but anything we do will not affect street sales. We are looking at several revenue-share and ways to distribute content. All the potential avenues will not be detracting from street sellers. Personally, I


Elaine Harwood

Exactly how are street sales going to be protected if you offer a different outlet for purchase?

Has anyone asked the homeless and vulnerably housed people how they feel about having their magazine distributed online? How much will they benefit from each and every transaction?

The whole idea of The Big Issue going digital seems completely unethical. Back issues I can understand but I just can't see how selling current editions will work to benefit the homeless in the same way as street selling does – even if it's a new title. Couldn't a new title be sold on the street too?

Simon Plesbit

The whole point of the big issue has always been for the homeless people to generate an income, surely Yudu and the publisher are robbing from the poor!!

Lara McCullagh

The Big Issue has absolutelt no intention of 'disintermediating' its vendors. The organisation's primary objective remains that of offering homeless and vulnerably housed people the opportunity to earn an income, hence our determination to protect street sales.

Initially we hope to work with Yudu to sell individual back issues, and going forward we are exploring the possibility of developing a new title which will be exclusively available in a digital format. However in developing any subscription mechanism we will focus on ensuring that homeless people benefit from each and every transaction.

Mark Nagurski

The Big Issue do already offer a 'supporting' subscription package which starts from £250 a year – so it's feasible that they might do something similar here at a lower price point.

Also worth bearing in mind that both Big Issue Scotland and Big Issue Wales do publish mag content on their respective sites.

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