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Major magazine publishers sign on to Amazon tablet launch

by Morgan Phelps

More than a year has passed since the iPad’s launch, yet magazine publishers’ enthusiasm for offering tablet-friendly versions of their publications has not dulled. And there’s plenty of excitement about the upcoming launch of Amazon’s new tablet computer. Even before the device’s scheduled revealing on Wednesday, Hearst, Conde Nast and Meredith have all agreed to sell digital versions of their publications on the new tablet, according to sources cited in a report by All Things D.Time Inc. has yet to reach a publisher agreement with Amazon to sell subscriptions on the new device. This is similar to what happened with Apple as the company also failed to reach an agreement with Time to sell subscriptions, allowing it to only sell individual titles through Apple’s App Store. The agreements with other publishers are expected to be similar to Apple’s, in which publishers retain about 70 percent of all sales and the retailer, in turn, shares some customer data with publishers. The percentage may vary about or below 70 based on the title and customer offer.

Many publishers already have a relationship with Amazon as a marketer of their print editions. For example, Hearst and Amazon expanded their partnership earlier this month, saying the retailer is set to become the publisher’s “single-largest third-party seller of print subscriptions for its magazines via digital channels.” Those existing relationships, along with the retailer’s reputation as the world’s largest e-commerce platform, make it appealing to publishers. “You’ve got beauty and design with Apple, which we love,” said one publisher with an Amazon deal. “But with Amazon you have marketing, and ease of use. We’re very optimistic.”

Sources have indicated that publishers have already prepped some titles for the seven-inch Amazon tablet, to be run on the Android operating system, set to be introduced Wednesday. Publishers are also preparing for when the retailer rolls out a larger version more comparable to the iPad’s size, a move that is expected to occur next year.

And while some publishers have been skeptical to move their titles to the tablet market (we’re looking at you, Rolling Stone), the launch of a credible iPad competitor seems to have reignited interest among other major publishers seeking a broader audience for the digital editions of their titles.