Wall Street Journal to Charge $17.99 a Month for iPad Subscriptions

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Just when you thought the iPad might be able to breathe some life back into the failing print industry, the industry itself seems dead set on making sure that doesn’t happen. Well, certain parties within the industry at least, like maybe News Corp. for instance, if a recent report appearing in the Wall Street Journal about planned iPad subscription pricing is any indication.

The report, which, you’ll remember, appeared in the WSJ itself, cited “a person familiar with the matter” as the source of the information that the Journal would be charging $17.99 per month for iPad subscribers when the device launches next month. No, that’s not a typo where I accidentally switched “per month” for “per year.”

I realize that the Wall Street Journal is among those choice few who’ve been given a pre-production piece of iPad hardware upon which to develop its app, but I doubt very much that anything it can put together, no matter how spectacular, will make me want to pay $18 a month for the privilege of using it. People switched to online news sources because they were cheaper, not significantly more expensive than traditional paper outlets.

While the WSJ seems to have gone well off its rocker regarding iPad pricing, other companies are offering more sane and reasonable deals. Esquire, for instance, which is the magazine the furthest along in the Hearst family with regards to iPad development, plans to offer its iPad issues for only $2.99 an issue. That’s $2 off the standard newsstand price, which is cheaper, as one might expect.

Men’s Health, on the other hand, is going the route of equally priced digital and print editions, and will be charging $4.99 per issue, and other offerings like Time and People are said to be priced close to the newsstand editions. Advertisers are reportedly flocking to the magazine publishers in droves in order to be part of the first wave of iPad editions, owing partly to the marquee value of the highly anticipated launch, and partly to the innovation in interactive ads possible thanks to the new medium.

So the question is, what’s the pricing sweet spot for iPad users when it comes to magazine content? Personally, I wouldn’t pay any of the prices I’ve mentioned, but that’s only because I’m not interested in the content. If National Geographic or Popular Science offered iPad apps priced the same as their print editions, I’d go for it, even though I don’t buy those in print now. I wouldn’t pay $17.99 a month for anything, even a magazine for which I was the sole target audience called “Darrell Monthly.”

Related GigaOM Pro Research: Forecast: Tablet App Sales To Hit $8B by 2015

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