iPad owners are now getting more than just bells and whistles tacked on to some of their favorite magazines — they're also getting issues of those magazines first.
As first uncovered by The Loop, Apple has set up a new category in its Newsstand store featuring 20 titles — all owned by Hearst — which will be released before they appear in print "or any other digital edition." Subscribers and single-issue purchasers will be able to access new releases at the same time.
Exactly how much of a lead iPad readers will have will vary by magazine, but most will be within "a couple of days" of the print release, a spokesperson for Hearst told Mashable.
Apple's advantage here isn't so much over print as over other digital newsstands, like Amazon's, Google's and Zinio's. Many magazines owned by companies other than Hearst already push out their digital editions ahead of print: The tablet edition of Conde Nast-owned Golf Digest, for example, goes live one week before print issues hit newsstands, a spokesperson for the magazine told Mashable. (However others, likeRunner's World, sometimes appear several weeks after, we've noticed.)
Why is Apple getting special treatment? Apple suggested it, says Hearst. The advantage for Hearst, presumably, is exposure. At Mashable's Media Summit in November, Hearst President David Carey said the success of its tablet editions relied heavily on promotion from digital storefronts. "If your magazines land in the upper carousel of [Apple's] Newsstand, you sell a lot of product. If you're nowhere on that page, you're not going to do as well," he observed.
Hearst's digital circulation is still marginal. In a note to employees sent at the beginning of the year, Carey said the company had amassed nearly 800,000 paid digital subscribers in the U.S. across its titles. To put that in context, just one of its titles,Cosmopolitan, has a print circulation of more than 3 million, according to ABC.