Due to increased postage cost, new pricing is in effect. To offset this increase, especially for our foreign subscribers who are affected the most, we are now offering both print and digital subscriptions as well as single-copy issues in both formats.
As you know there is less cost in producing a digital issue and our plan going forward is to add more content to our digital issues, but at the moment we’re taking baby steps. The problem becomes how much people are willing to pay for a high-end niche publication. The cost of mailing a subscription outside North American has increased to the point that we felt it necessary to make this offer; there is no end in sight for increased postage costs. Our hope is that with our lower cost digital editions we will be able to reach more international subscribers. Within North American we have absorbed the cost difference but we cannot with our international pricing. We’ve looked at a lighter weight stock—at the moment our publication weighs one-pound (.4536kg)—or fewer pages, neither option was seriously considered.
All publications are facing a tough future as major chains reduce their shelf space, especially for art and design publications. The option for digital subscriptions and single-copy sales is still too new to see how this will impact the industry, but the fact of the matter is that the reduced cost—literally half the cover price must be offset with an increased subscriber base. The design and production costs are the same to produce any publication and even within the current publishing/bookstore partnership, publishers receive less than half of the cover price and must pay a fee, annual advertising costs and shipment to the main distributor and then to all bookstores—the end result is very little goes to profit. And the digital environment is not much better and in many cases worse. Signing up with a digital distributor looks promising in the beginning but after the substantial discounts, the initial fee for adding the publication to the “newsstand” and the cut Apple takes with each issue a publisher is left with pennies. To offset this publishers hope to increase digital distribution two-fold or more, this is where the outlook is cloudy. We’re all too new to this to forecast what the results will be and niche publications, especially ones with little or no advertising inside like ours, have a tougher challenge.
At the moment our digital subscription is only available for use on your desktop or laptop. An iPad app is coming as soon as we determine which route to take, to offer one ourselves or to go through a distributor.
Digital subscribers will receive a link to download each issue when it is published. With this approach, piracy is a problem. Sharing this link with anyone is in violation of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act and will result in termination of the subscription and further legal action. An app will avoid this complication but both forms will be necessary as we know people like to look at magazines on their computer as well as their tablet.
We hope you’ll consider supporting our new digital subscriptions, especially if you’re located outside North America, or you’re a student as there is a cost savings. And we hope that more of you will opt for our printed magazine, there’s nothing quite like the smell of ink on paper.