Esquire, GQ Apps To Be Sold Monthly; Hearst, Condé Nast Look To Apple As Another Virtual Newsstand

While Condé Nast has taken a more measured approach to distributing digitized versions of its magazines through the iTunes App Store, Hearst has already decided to put a new electronic edition of Esquire for sale each month on what is increasingly becoming Apple’s virtual newsstand. Hearst made the announcement on the same day the January Esquire app went on sale. Condé Nast, which was first to the app story with its complete electronic edition of GQ last month, had originally intended the app as a one-off, with the possibility of a regular digital issue hitting the iTunes store after more study. But a source told paidContent that the publisher made a quick decision to give its latest issue of GQ the app treatment, since it featured Rhianna on the cover and seemed like it might be good to tie it to the music store. Most notably, the monthly GQ app will come with continued Audit Bureau of Circulations accreditation — meaning that a purchase of the GQ app counts the same a physical newsstand sale, something Esquire is still working on.

Although a new GQ app will be issued monthly from here on in, users won’t have the option of clicking and automatically updating a new issue until March.

Neither Condé Nast nor Hearst would say which of its dozens of mag titles would be next to hit the app store. But both are looking at a range of titles. Condé Nast is looking closely at titles like Vanity Fair and Vogue as natural additions to the App Store.

Subscriptions are another area both companies are mulling, but a decision is not expected for months. For the most part, both aren’t sure how to price a monthly subscription. But Hearst says it’s definitely planning on coming up with a subscription model for its apps soon. For now, publishers are comfortable with Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) as the “virtual newsstand,” but not as the virtual mailbox. The companies are looking toward other avenues for the virtual newsstand concept, including the digital storefront with other publishers such as Time Inc. (NYSE: TWX) and Meredith (NYSE: MDP). Meanwhile, Hearst has been investing in digital device makers as well.

The Esquire app, with John F. Kennedy on the front (pictured, left), costs $2.99 to download and takes up 53 MB of file space. That’s the same price but a bigger file size than the two GQ app, which both are 0.4 MB. It joins other Hearst apps, which are more typical to other mag apps, in that they represent off-shoots of the print brands, rather than direct replications. Hearst’s other mag apps include Seventeen’s Fashion Finder and Cosmopolitan’s Sex Position of The Day.

Esquire, though, is Hearst’s primary guinea pig when it comes to digital. The magazine just spent six figures on Esquire’s December print edition, which was outfitted with Augmented Technology and other digital elements. Last year, Esquire worked with E-Ink on a