Publishers Fret Over Apple Newsstand

Battle for promo space, among other issues, top of mind

When Apple announced a digital “newsstand” in June, publishers welcomed it as a sign the tech giant saw the need for an easy way for consumers to find magazines and newspapers in the iTunes store, where they’re presently strewn all about. But, like Apple’s other forays into the publishing space, the newsstand, which could debut as early as Oct. 4, has been meeting with mixed reactions from publishers.

Collecting magazines in a single location will help them build digital sales. But within the newsstand, titles will still be fighting for promotional space. “The biggest challenge in publishing apps is letting people know about them,” says Joe Zeff, a designer who helps magazines with their app strategy. “The newsstand will make it easier by putting all of the publications in one place, but it’s still a challenge.”

It also seems to do little to encourage innovation. The newsstand appears to be limited to subscriptions, leaving titles’ other apps to fight it out in the larger iTunes store. That in turn is leaving some publishers, who once balked at Apple’s subscription terms, scrambling to accept them so their apps will be newsstand-ready when the time comes.