Target makes the scene with a magazine

October 13, 2009

You know how it is when you take a trip to Target: You’re going to buy just that ONE THING that you need, and you’re going to keep it cheap. As you leave the store, you wonder how you dropped hundreds of dollars on things that you didn’t realize you needed until you walked into the store.

Target is hoping to spawn a similar phenomenon on its website, where it has begun offering a magazine newsstand. Rather than starting from scratch, it has signed on Zinio, a digital publishing company that offers magazines and books from more than 350 publishers.

Zinio will sell electronic versions of magazines on a page on Target’s website, either as single editions of current and older issues, or as annual subscriptions – usually at a discount. People can read them in a Web browser version or through an application that Zinio offers for download. This is similar to what they’ve done on other websites, like the one operated by Barnes & Noble.

Yes, you can already look at online versions of magazines, Zinio Chief Executive Richard Maggiotto said in an interview. This is different, however, he said: “It’s a high-fidelity, robust magazine.” In other words, these titles, ranging from Elle to Woman’s Day to Seventeen, are meant to look — if not feel — like the print magazines they are replacing. Zinio and Target will share the revenue they get from each sale.

Maggiotto declined to reveal specific goals, but said that he would be happy to see 1,000 or more new subscriptions (a month) come in during the first year of the Target partnership. So far, he said, Zinio sees about 60 percent of its magazine sales coming from archival or current issue sales, and about 40 percent from subscriptions.

This might not be such big news on most other days, but it is coming after some cataclysmic events transpired in the magazine industry. With ad sales suffering, big publishers such as Conde Nast are cutting workers and titles, making some media experts wonder whether the good times are over forever. Digital revenue has failed to make up for print revenue losses, just like in the newspaper world. But every little bit helps, right? Apparently so. Maggiotto would not say who Zinio’s next partners are, but said that “there are 10 more in the queue.”

(PS: Apologies to Tom Waits for stealing one of his lyrics for the sake of a headline. It’s from “Nighthawks at the Diner.” The photo is all Reuters)


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I’m just impressed you used a Tom Waits reference!

Magazines with DRM? Oh how I long for the simpler days.

Posted by Christopher | Report as abusive

I know, None! I clicked and read the headline and thought, someone listens to Nighthawks at the Diner. Slightly cleaned up reference, though.

Posted by vonb | Report as abusive

It’s true, I had to clean it up. A little provocative conversation is one thing; it’s the tieing yourself up that the editors would find gratuitous. Oh well… High tonight, low tomorrow — precipitation is expected.