iPad Magazine Subscriptions Now Available at Your Local Target Store

I was on an expedition this evening to my local electronic stores when I happened something new. Conde Nast is now selling magazine subscriptions in Target stores. They're currently offering a half dozen titles, including Wired, GQ, and Glamour. I was making the rounds and checking to see if any store had the new Sony Reader (just announced today). None did, but while I was at Target I stopped to check out the Livrada ebook gift cards. I told you about them last month; they're a new product by a young Calif startup which is trying to bring ebooks into brick-and-mortar stores. Hanging on hooks next to the Livrada cards were a set of cards I'd never heard of before. There were a half dozen titles, all priced at $20, and from what I could tell they were all Conde Nast magazines.

The card is good for a 1 year combined subscription to Wired Magazine's paper and digital editions. Once you activate the card you can choose to get the subscription via the Wired iPad app or the Nook or Kindle Stores. And you do have to have the card activated; it works just like the phone cards and gift cards that you've probably seen everywhere.

As I said, this is new to me. I can't find anything on the Target or Conde Nast websites, and what little info I found on the Wired website at wired.com/target was simply an activation page (with a customer service phone number). I can't even find any sign of this program in Google (now that is weird).

But I did find some technical info. While I'm pretty sure that Conde Nast is handling this in house, the cards are based on a system developed by Incomm called Fastcard. Now that has a website, and apparently there's a parellel program for selling paper subscriptions with similar cards. Also, Incomm has been running a number of gift card type programs for a while now. In fact, I've probably bought one card or another at some point.

Conde Nast is a US publisher with 18 magazine titles and numerous websites. They were one of the first publishers to jump on the iPad app bandwagon, and they were also one of the first to offer the dual subscriptions. With that in mind, today's news is more of a puzzler than a surprise. I'm puzzled by the lack of publicity, not the cards.

Still, I do find it interesting that these cards first appeared in Target. In the past I've said I expected Target to replace the ereader hardware sales (they dropped the Kindle and Kobo Touch) with something that would let them cash in on content sales; clearly they've found it.

About Nate Hoffelder (11466 Articles)
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader: "I've been into reading ebooks since forever, but I only got my first ereader in July 2007. Everything quickly spiraled out of control from there. Before I started this blog in January 2010 I covered ebooks, ebook readers, and digital publishing for about 2 years as a part of MobileRead Forums. It's a great community, and being a member is a joy. But I thought I could make something out of how I covered the news for MobileRead, so I started this blog."

2 Comments on iPad Magazine Subscriptions Now Available at Your Local Target Store

  1. Wow … I actually think this is an amazingly smart idea. There’s a really large demographic of middle-age or older people in the U.S. now who have iPads, but don’t really know how to use them; many of them probably don’t even fully understand what an app is and how to use one. I’d bet good money that’s the demographic these cards will be marketed to, assuming they do well.

    And I agree that the lack of info about these online seems odd, although I’d guess they’re probably doing a very limited test release right now; these are probably only available in select parts of the country, possibly where the population skews a bit older. That’s probably why you can’t find any info: They may be waiting to see how well these things sell before investing in ad and marketing campaigns.

    As someone with a publishing background, though, what I can tell you is that there’s nothing odd about the Condé Nast tie-in, as they’ve been one of the largest and most successful magazine publishers in the business for decades. (Check out the infamous @CondeElevator Twitter feed.)

    It’ll be interesting to see if this concept takes off, and here’s why: Most subscriptions to print magazines include a free subscription to the magazine’s digital version, assuming they have one. And for this idea to really take off–financially and otherwise–it’ll be necessary to have a huge selection of magazines for consumers to choose from. But because very few publishers current charge their print subscribers for digital edition access, that wouldn’t be possible right now … unless a large number of publishers decided to collectively change their current policy about giving away the free digital edition. And that could very well happen if these cards prove to be moneymakers for Conde Nast, or whoever else might hop on board in the coming months.

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