Why iPad magazines cost $4.99 each

invisibleSHIELD case for iPadWhy are iPad magazines so expensive relative to their physical – dead tree – versions?

“Because that’s what the market will bear — at least for now,” Philip Elmer-DeWitt writes for Fortune.

“If you buy the digital editions of Popular Science or TIME Magazine on the iPad, they cost $4.99 each — same as on the newsstand,” Elmer-DeWitt writes. “However, one-year subscriptions to Popular Science (the paper magazine) are currently selling for $12 — or $1 an issue. And TIME subscriptions can be had for $20 — around 35¢ an issue.”

“The attendees at the WeMedia conference had widely divergent opinions about the approach publishers are taking,” Elmer-DeWitt reports. “‘I like the brazenness of TIME’s $4.99 an issue,’ said Roger Black, a veteran magazine designer whose portfolio includes the logos for both TIME and Newsweek. ‘I think the TIME Magazine app is the most sinful piece of shit ever,’ said Buzzmachine’s Jeff Jarvis, a former Time Inc. editor and author of What Would Google Do? ‘The ego of it was unabashedly awful.'”

Elmer-DeWitt reports, “As for that $4.99 per-issue magazine price, it will come down in a month or so when Apple allows magazines to set up subscriptions on the iTunes store, says Popular Science’s Jannot. But it won’t come down much. He’s planning to charge $29.99 for 12 iPad issues and $19.99 for six.”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: If you think the prices are too high, capitalism provides a simple remedy for this: Do not buy the the magazines. Visit them for free on your iPad’s Safari browser until the publishers lower their prices. If enough people think the prices are too high and don’t buy, then prices will come down. If iPad magazine prices do not decrease, then you know that you are in the minority.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Joe J.” for the heads up.]


  1. I ended up paying $4.99 per issue for the iCreate mag through the iCreate App. Expensive? Yes. But considering that I’ve been paying $15.95 per issue, because it’s a UK import, $4.99 seems a right bargain!!!

  2. Time and Newsweek ceased to be viable/reliable news sources many, many, many years ago. Here’s to their current business model: overpriced, overhyped pap for the gullible. (And may they take the Old Gray Lady down with them.)

  3. I want to know when/if you’ll be able to buy single issues of newspapers. I rarely read print editions, but if I’m at the airport and getting on a plane, I’ll sometimes pick up a WSJ for roughly $2. Is there a way to do this now that I’m missing? It wouldn’t hurt their subscription revenue because I will NEVER subscribe since I only read WSJ 1-2 times per month at most.

  4. I won’t buy any magazines until the prices is reasonable, i.e. no more than half the issue price or a subscription price the same as the paper subscription price.

    I bought the iPad on purpose to replace my waste paper habit. But I won’t be robbed or pay a premium to do that.

    I think Apple has priced the iPad pretty reasonably. It’s time the publishers saw the writing on the wall. I will not pay the early adopter premium this time.

  5. While publishers are raping consumers at the moment, I would think that paper versions are still cheaper due to advertising and the fact you are receiving stale news. If Time really costs 35¢ an issue by mail, then what you are paying for is postage. You also get quicker access to the stories online which may be considered a premium.

    Seems to me that you get online access with a paper subscription in many cases, so get the paper subscription and read the online version. You can throw out or donate the paper copy when it comes in the mail three days after you’ve read the e version anyway.

  6. @ HMCIV:

    Sometimes things are worse.
    Here in Mexico, where oil belongs to all Mexicans: when the price of oil rises, the price of gasoline goes up, reflecting higher prices. But when the oil price drops, the price of gasoline goes up, for offset the fall in prices.
    What is worse?

    Shit happens, sometimes®

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