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!

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Calob Horton

Calob Horton is an associate editor at Pocketables. He loves all technology, no matter which company it comes from. This unbiased view of the tech world allows him to choose the products that best fit his personal needs and tastes: a Microsoft Surface Pro, a Samsung Galaxy Note 3, and a third-gen iPad.Google+ | Twitter | More posts by Calob | Subscribe to Calob's posts