Apple and Publishers still haggling over subscription terms

Sun, Dec 5, 2010


The iPad was supposed to breathe new life into the struggling print industry, but what some publishers view as imposing demands from Apple have effectively stalled negotiations. The key point of contention, amongst publishers, centers on magazine app subscriptions and Apple’s refusal to a) sell subscriptions themselves and more importantly b) access personal data of their subscribers.

According to a publishing source cited by Peter Kafka of Media Memo, the deal currently on the table from Apple is as follows.

  • The ability to sell app subscriptions through iTunes.
  • 70 percent of the revenue from each sale.
  • The ability to offer an opt-in form for subscribers that would ask them for a limited amount of information: Name, mailing address, email address.

“That offer has been on the table for a “couple months,” Kafka writes, “and so far none of the big publishers have gone for it. They don’t like the 30 percent cut that Apple wants to take, but their real hang-up is lack of access to credit card data: It’s valuable to them for marketing, and without it they can’t offer print/digital bundles, either.”

In the meantime, publishers appear to be waiting on Android, but with the iPad currently dominating the tablet market with an impressive 95% marketshare, they might be waiting for a long long time. Still, not all publishers are waiting patiently on the sidelines. Newsweek, for example, has chosen to offer its publication on a subscription basis without access to subscriber’s personal data.



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