Who wants easy, unlimited access to thousands of publications?
You might not, but millions of other people do, apparently.
And the crowd is getting ready to increase more, most likely.
As if there wasn’t enough material to read already, some online publication bundlers are making sure that people have unlimited access to the world’s most important periodicals for one low price.
This week, The Wall Street Journal blog reported that Magzter, a company that provides a single access point for more than 5,000 magazines published around the world, has now introduced a service plan it calls Magzter Gold.
It’s an “all-you-can-read” option that gives subscribers online access to approximately 2,000 publications – many of them top-circulation magazines like ESPN, Maxim, New York Magazine and Forbes – for a flat rate of just $9.99 a month or $99.99 per year.
And access to this huge repository of publications is quick and easy via desktops, laptops and tablets, plus iOS and Android phone apps.
There’s also a plan called Magzter Gold Lite, allowing access to the subscriber’s choice of any five magazine titles (which can be changed from month to month).
The cost of that subscription? $5 per month.
These two new programs are aimed at increasing Magzter’s subscriber base, which already numbers more than 4 million active monthly users.
Magzter isn’t the only company offering online access to a family of publications. Other providers like Readly and Next Issue also offer programs encompassing the stable of magazine titles belonging to various different publishing arms (Condé Nast, Hearst, Meredith, Time).
But none of them have anything like the sheer number of titles Magzter is offering.
Readers of my generation (over the age of 50) grew up with print magazines and are preternaturally drawn to the tactile sensation of reading a physical magazine. But I suspect that publication bundlers like Magzter represent the tip of the spear rather than simply a passing fancy.
The question is whether the changing mode of delivery ends up destroying the actual product that Magzter and others are able to peddle. After all, were it not for the print magazines to begin with, what would these aggregators have to sell?
If what it boils down to is offering fee-based premium content that is no longer tied to a print magazine because the publication is no longer available in hard-copy form, will the quality of that content continue to be as high?
In many — perhaps most — cases, I think it’s doubtful.
If the print magazines that underlie the digital product offerings disappear, it wouldn’t surprise me if millions of readers fall away from subscription services in favor of trolling the Internet for similar content that’s easily available for the bargain price of … goose egg.
For those who are using access services like Magzter or Readly today, would you recommend them to others? Is it the wave of the future? Please share your perspectives with other readers here.