It’s being reported that Google is working to gain market share in the e-magazine trade by supplying more information to the publishers and taking a smaller cut for the privilege of offering titles on their Android phones. Amazon and Barnes & Noble already offer several titles for their Kindle and Nook Color readers.
Stumbling blocks for many publishers in dealing with Apple has been an inability to sell subscriptions through iTunes, a lack of a direct relationship with the buyers, and Apple’s 30% share of the sales. Apple is said to be working on a new subscription model. And while publishers feel a need to know whether they are dealing with new or returning customers, they fear readers will be reluctant to share personal information such as names and email addresses, making it difficult to offer discounts to loyal customers. However, publishers are confident that if the subscription system is in place, they could offer discounts for longer-term commitments. Currently, some outlets, such as the Economist and Wall Street Journal offer free iPad issues to their print subscribers. Bundling them in this way allows the publishers to bypass Apple’s billing system.
We explored the issue of dwindling e-magazine subscriptions last week, and most readers agreed that a subscription service available through iTunes or iBooks and lower prices would make e-magazines somewhat more attractive. However, given Apple’s tight control issues and insistence to offer iPad-only subscriptions, the price of e-magazines are unlikely to decline significantly.