PixelMags and its new magazine subscription program and app, Readr, are doing for magazines what streaming music sites like Rdio and Spotify are doing for music. Readr provides users 20 minutes a month of free “AnyTime” magazine browsing, and for $9.99 per month you get unlimited reading of hundreds of popular magazines.
The catch, however, to this subscription service is that you never really own the magazines, just as you don’t own the content you subscribe to on music streaming sites. However, you can of course own individual digital magazines you purchase or subscribe to on your device.
Why AnyTime Browsing?
If you’re a magazine junkie like myself, or if you happen to subscribe to several monthly magazines, the AnyTime plan could be an affordable option. Even the 20 minutes of free AnyTime browsing of magazines could be like browsing magazines from a newsstand and then purchasing a copy you want to keep (this service is similar to another service subscription service called Next Issue).
About once a week I still visit a local Barnes and Noble, and I’m always amazed by the thousands of magazines stuffed into racks at the back of the store. A few store clerks have admitted that they have to box up and return most of the magazines on those racks. I rarely see people buying them.
Last August, the Audit Bureau of Circulations reported that single copy magazine sales fell nearly 10%. This is probably because readers can find so much more free content on sites like MakeUseOf, in which articles are posted on a daily, instead of a monthly, basis.
I however still subscribe to a few magazines like JazzTimes and Macworld simply because of the great content they provide. But based on how much I spent last year for magazines and a few magazine subscriptions, the Readr AnyTime plan might be a more affordable option, providing access to least ten magazines I would like to browse but don’t want to purchase for complete download. And not owning the magazine isn’t a problem either, because before I started using the iPad, I couldn’t count how many back issues of magazines piled up in my office closet that I had to eventually recycle.
The AnyTime plan includes being able to browse and read back issues of magazines that the publisher has posted in digital format. So the content is always there without the wasted paper and storage space.
How AnyTime Works
The Readr app, like other digital reading magazine services, allows you to browse and preview hundreds of magazines in a wide range of categories, including Lifestyle, News, Science & Tech, Sports, Women, Art, Entertainment, and Automotive. Featured magazines include Cosmopolitan, Traveller, Motor Trend, Linux User, Shutterbug, and Men’s Fitness.
The smaller icon versions of all the magazines can actually be previewed by simply swiping through the pages. It’s almost like flipping through magazines on Newsstand, except that the articles are too small to actually read. But you clearly get an idea of each issue’s content.
Magazines with the blue AnyTime icon attached to them are available for full browsing when you select and download an issue for reading. Magazines can also be read offline.
With the free AnyTime plan, you get 20 minutes of reading time per month to explore all the publications marked for the plan. To budget your allotted 20 minutes, be sure to turn off the AnyTime option when you’re not actually reading through a magazine. When that time is up, you will need to wait for the next cycle in order to continue browsing and reading magazines.
Sure 20 minutes is not a long time, but one way you might get better use of that time is by starring magazine titles to show up in your Readr Library. Though the AnyTime browsing time only clicks when you’re actually browsing magazines, you can more quickly access and view magazine in your library rather than having to browse the entire store.
If you’re only interested in a few magazines, it’s quite possible to read several stories each month from the magazines and only purchase the issues you like. Also, there’s nothing keeping you from taking screenshots of pages and reading them later.
Of course, the goal of this AnyTime plan is that you will support publishers by actually buying subscriptions and/or purchasing individual issues. Publishers no doubt get a slice of your monthly AnyTime subscription whenever you download an issue of a magazine.
The Readr app includes other features for accessing the AnyTime issues you download, or the issues you actually purchase and own. You can also search the magazine store, and select which regions of the world you want to browse magazines from. Magazines that you haven’t opened for two weeks get automatically deleted from your offline library in order to preserve space on your iPad.
The AnyTime plan, both the free and paid option, seems pretty affordable for iPad users, but let us know what you think of it. Are you a magazine junkie who would benefit from this option, or do you get enough free content from the web?