Next Issue Media, the major magazine and newspaper joint venture, is officially opening its “digital storefront” on the Google (NSDQ: GOOG) Android-powered Samsung Galaxy, the portable device that’s one part iPad, one part Kindle. The first titles out of the gate include Hearst Magazines’ Esquire and Popular Mechanics, Meredith’s Fitness and Parents, Time (NYSE: TWX) Inc.’s Fortune and Time, and Condé Nast’s The New Yorker.
Billed as a “preview release,” NIM’s store is available to readers on the 7-inch device from Verizon Wireless (NYSE: VZ). Samsung’s retail Wi-Fi version of this device sometime in the next few weeks, CEO Morgan Guenther told paidContent in an interview. Later this year, the company will launch its full magazine of interactive magazine content complete with a unified reader and library, which will enable cross-title features around search, discovery and sharing.
Ultimately, the company plans to have 40 titles in the full marketplace and outside publishers will also be brought in. Guenther is currently in talks with several unspecified publishers who are considering joining NIM in the next few weeks.
The company is eschewing any smartphone magazine sales, at least for now. “We feel the Galaxy is the perfect device for the launch — it’s small enough to carry easily in the palm of your hand, but it’s large enough to make the experience comparable to a glossy magazine,” Guenther said.
A lot has changed in the year-and-a-half since NIM was formed by the aforementioned publishers and News Corp. (NSDQ: NWS), whose The Daily publication is so far outside the NIM subscription system. Just in the past month, Condé Nast’s The New Yorker and other titles have begun rolling out a subscription plan in Apple’s iTunes App Store. Hearst also came to an agreement with Apple for corresponding apps for Esquire, Popular Mechanics and O, The Oprah Magazine.
The Apple prices and the ones NIM is offering through its store on the Galaxy are comparable. However, Apple takes 30 cents out of every dollar a publisher gets through their sales in the App Store. Guenther wouldn’t discuss revenue split from the NIM storefront.
“The publishers own NIM and that’s who we serve,” Guenther said. “We eventually hope to add our storefront to Apple (NSDQ: AAPL). This is only the beginning and we have a lot more to do.”
The Apple agreements and the NIM storefront launch come as publishers are scrambling to manage content systems for iPads, iPhones, the Galaxy, Barnes & Noble’s Nook, among others. Many staffs are finding themselves being stretched to the limit, while some publishing veterans express dismay at the rush to create apps, when websites and print are still where the money is.
But with the recent developments on subscriptions — and the revelation that consumers are willing to opt-in to share personal information with publishers directly — that could change quickly. Guenther seems ready to revise previous estimates about what sort of revenue e-paper subscriptions will bring in.
For example, several months ago, NIM did a study on the value of tablets to magazine and newspaper publishers, concluding that the aggregate revenue could be $3 billion by 2014. “I think that estimate was a little conservative, given the interest we’re seeing from consumers in subscribing,” Guenther said. “I’ve said it before, this is one of the best times to be in the magazine business.”