Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Rodale really, really cares about your abs (as well as selling magazines through Apple's Newsstand)

Emmaus, Pennsylvania based Rodale, Inc. has joined the parade of magazine companies that have adopted Apple's Newsstand model, launching new apps for Woman's Health, Prevention, Runner's World and today for Men's Health. Each of the apps are exclusive to the iPad. (Rodale is making Android apps for smartphones, but offers no tablet editions of their magazines for the Android platform at this time.

Rodale is the only company I am aware of that produces one magazine for both men and woman, then uses replace to substitute "he" for "she" in order to produce two separate magazines (just kidding, I think).

The new app for Men's Health is offering single issues for $4.99 or an annual subscription for $23.99 through Apple's subscription system.

Unfortunately, Rodale did not build into its new apps the ability to sign into their print accounts to avoid paying twice, essentially forcing readers to choose between print and digital. This may be a conscious decision on their part, but is the wrong way to go about accomplishing the migration. Instead, the publisher would be better off making sure the reader is faced with two identically priced options, allowing them to choose digital without angering them by paying twice.

The new app does offer a 75 MB sized preview of the November issue. While some other publisher are just offering a few pages to preview, Rodale is offering a healthy chuck of the magazine to entice readers to subscribe – a good marketing move.

What Newsstand offers magazine readers is the ability to browse issues (assuming publishers include nice sized previews like Rodale) without being forced to buy the single copy price – without building in previews you are missing one of the key advantages of being inside Newsstand. Developers of Newsstand compliant apps would be very wise to use Rodale's example when building their own apps.

Oh, and don't forget to write about abs, they are apparently very important. (Don't they have something to do with car brakes?)