Hearst is taking a unique approach to tablet publishing. The magazine publisher will offer the tablet edition before the print version becomes available. Hearst says that all 22 of its magazines will become available on Apple’s Newsstand “days” before the print editions are published, with this headstart apparently varying by publication. The decision is significant for the future of tablet publishing and could be the start of a trend. Apple has confirmed to AllThingsD that it welcomes any publishers looking to go down the same route as Hearst.
Back in May of last year, Hearst said that it was selling 600,000 tablet editions each month. An impressive figure, but one which was still dwarfed by the 22 million print editions sold the same time-frame. The company has even toyed of pushing up the price of tablet magazines, as Hearst Magazine International CEO Duncan Edwards believes that readers will be willing to pay more for tablet magazines.
The general consensus with publishers is: Tablet editions are a nice revenue stream that in some cases brings new readers, and in others helps to hang onto existing print subscribers, via online/offline bundles. But they’re not enough to save many publishers from the decline of their print businesses.