I have a new post up at PBS MediaShift that offers a different perspective on the “Netflix for magazines” (a.k.a., “buffet-style”) business model offered by Readly and Magzter, among other companies. I wanted to hear from these companies about why they think they can succeed with this approach.
The two things I found most curious in reporting this story:
- From my conversation with Blake Pollard at Readly: “We have tried to go away from being a reading app to make it more of a utility, using trusted content that’s in magazines.” I don’t think anyone has explored this aspect of these apps — that they could be considered filtering tools, offering people a way to locate higher-quality niche content than they can find with a Google search. Whether that filtering/utility role is worth $9.99/month…well, that remains to be seen, I suppose.
- The differing strength of print culture — though almost universally waning — in various locales and how users’ preferences/habits affect their level of comfort with digital simulacra. If you’re still very much a print reader, a magazine’s digital replica probably seems more familiar and comfortable than if you’ve been immersed in mobile and interactive media for a decade now. Maybe there is still a role for replicas, as unsatisfying as they are for many in this latter group of users.