How Apple’s Newsstand is a confusing service
Just yesterday, I wrote up a post about me cancelling my paper magazine subscriptions and replacing them with subscriptions from Apple’s Newsstand.
I’m now paperless as far as my magazines go, so this morning I fired up my iPad and took a look through Newsstand to find the first magazine that I wanted to subscribe to. Unfortunately for me, what I found was rather surprising.
Here is a screenshot of my iPad. When it was taken, I was looking for Game Informer, a great gaming magazine. I found it, of course, but I also found its pricing. Individual issues are $4.99 – a dollar cheaper than an issue on the actual newsstand – and subscriptions are comparable to what you’d find with the paper magazine, too.
Naturally, I got very excited at the prospect of replacing my current subscriptions with ones in Newsstand for the same price; after I placed my subscription for Game Informer, I went searching for more of my favorites.
Eventually, I ran across Mac|Life, one of my favorite Mac-focused magazines. Unsurprisingly, the prices were different – Game Informer and Mac|Life are very different publications from two different publishers, after all. But what confused me here was the pricing scheme: Future US charges $5.99 for a single issue, $0.99 for a one-month subscription, or $10.99 for a one-year subscription. The one-year subscription is awesome, but I have a problem with how the single issue and one-month subscriptions work.
One issue costs $5.99, like I’ve said, which is exactly what a paper issue would cost at your local store. But a one-month subscription costs $0.99. You can technically leave that subscription alone and each month’s issue will cost you $0.99, but you could also just turn off the automatic renewal before the next month’s issue and – voila! – you just cheated the company out of $5.
Now, I still think Newsstand is a great idea – and I’ll continue to use it – but pricing has to be confusing to a lot of consumers. Not only are prices very different according to publication, but automatic renewals are a relatively new “feature” for magazines. Most people will read through the description like I did, but there are others who might not read it and might expect that their one-year subscription will be one year and it will stop.
I’ve still got a month to go to see if Newsstand can be a viable service for me, so be sure to check back then to read my thoughts!