Magazine publishers scrabble to save their titles

A group of US publishers is to build an online newsstand and make a number of magazines available in a myriad of digital formats.

According to the New York Times, the consortium which includes Condé Nast, Hearst and Time will own equity in the project and the company may be formed as early as next week.

The challenge they face is that print magazines are seeing a precipitous drop in circulation and, according to the NY Times, the publishers want to exercise some form of control over digital access. The idea is that the publication will develop sites accessible from iPhones, from e-book readers, and from Blackberrys.

Publishers liken the idea to iTunes, but for magazines. Condé Naste is already offering GQ for the iPhone – the software application costs $3.

Recently, News International said that it wanted to charge for content across a whole slew of its titles.

The Wall Street Journal pioneered the idea of charging for online content, and has been successful in that venture. But the difference between the WSJ and other News International titles is that the former offers a whole raft of financial and company data.

Readers may not want to pay to see topless models, as featured in News International’s British title, The Sun. There’s plenty of topless models available on the internet for nothing.

The New York Times article is here.