The biggest magazine publisher in the US has just signed a deal with Apple to bring its content to the iPad.
It’s a move as symbolic as it is newsworthy, especially with the way Time is handling the deal. Unlike virtually every other publisher who has joined the iPad world, Time Inc will require anyone who wants digital access to its publications to sign up for the print equivalent.
That is, you can access the iPad version of Time Magazine, or People, or Sports Illustrated, only if you subscribe to the physical, paper version of the same magazine.
The digitized versions of all Time Inc properties, which also includes Fortune magazine, are ready for distribution as of today.
This comes just a few short months after the prior CEO of Time Inc, Jack Griffin, left. His short-lived reign of the company was the subject of much criticism.
Every other major player still left in the print journalism business has found a deal with the iPad and other digital reading devices. The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, etc, have all embraced the new technology, but Time Inc’s move is unique in that it does not offer any sort of digital access without a corresponding print subscription.
It seems to be without doubt a strategy to keep the print business functioning in some way.