For the first time in the short history of the iPad, Time Inc. magazines will finally be free for the magazine subscribers, something that magazine publishers have been desperately waiting for Apple to green light since the iPad launch.
Up to this point, the magazines (People, Time, Sports Illustrated and Fortune) have been selling for their regular newsstand price, leaving regular subscribers to have to really pay for the same issue twice to get content on the iPad. Even though Steve Jobs was clear that he wanted magazine subscriptions to exist on the iPad, Apple didn't offer the tools to magazines to do so. In fact, there is still no way for publishers to sell subscriptions online, but at least subscribers can now access their issues for free.
The news seems to be coming at a good time, because many people were, and still are, in outrage that Time, as well as other publishers, sell their digital copies at full price. Without the production costs of the magazines on the digital copy, the consensus was that the publishers are all ego driven, looking to make huge profits from the tech marvel of the iPad.
Popular Science editor-in-chief Mark Jannot explained that ""We're trying to make our readers not feel like we're slapping them in the face as we explore this new world, but we're going to continue to be aggressive about pricing. We'll see what the market will bear."
Their gamble has been a success so far, with a few different magazines in the Top Grossing charts on the iPad. We'll see how well individual issues do over the course of the next few months, but the new deal for subscribers seems to be gold.
The first free-to-subscribers issue from Times Inc. is this week's People Magazine, with the rest of the titles to follow suit over the course of the month.