Time Turning to Cafeteria Style SubscriptionsIn a break from the traditional way of subscribing to particular magazines, Time Inc. is trying something new. Customers will be able to get things from different magazines on a pay-as-you-go basis. This could have some interesting repercussions in the publishing world. For a long time, comapnies ahve assumed that people would take everything in all issues of magazines through subscriptions. There was no way of telling what people actually found of value.
But now, editors and publishers could actually learn what interests readers, rather than assuming, via focus groups, that what they do in general is the driving factor of sales. Maybe it's not. What if, over a large group of people, you see what they really want is one or two columns only? Not only does this have the possibility of letting publishers get a lot smarter, but it could take a lot of hot air out of editorial egos. Think of some of the questions you could ask. Do certain writers drive sales, or is it topics? Do the personalities and "brands" of editors matter at all? Do some topics drive print sales but not individual article sales? What happens when readers no longer have to buy an entire magazine to get the promised answer to some come-on line on the cover?
If this is successful at all, you can expect that things could start changing radically on the publishing front in the next few years - assuming, of course, that publishers and editors really want the answers that might now be possible.