All-you-can-read tablet mags…unless you have iPad or Kindle Fire

Digital magazine joint venture Next Issue Media goes live with its long-delayed digital newsstand tomorrow. Users will be able to read many popular magazines like People, GlamourReal Simple and the New Yorker for a flat fee — if they have an Android tablet running 3.0 (Honeycomb) or later. For now, iPad and Kindle Fire users need not apply, though the company plans to submit an iPad app to Apple for approval in a few weeks.
Condé Nast, Hearst, Meredith, News Corp (s NWS) and Time Inc. (s TWX) joined to launch Next Issue Media back in 2009 to sell digital magazines and other content from one cross-platform digital newsstand. But rollout has been slow, with little visible action since the company launched a digital storefront “preview” on the Samsung Galaxy tablet last May.
Now Next Issue Media launches for Android 3.0 and above with 32 popular magazines available. The company expects to add more later this year, eventually getting up to about 75 titles. The titles available are “premium, mass-market titles,” CEO Morgan Guenther told paidContent. “We’re taking a big, fat, short-tail content approach to this and going where the readers are.” Instead of downloading separate magazine apps, users download the Next Issue Media app and can read all the magazines within it.
The most innovative part of the launch is the “all-you-can-read” plan. Users can pay $9.99 per month for unlimited access to monthly and bi-weekly magazines, or $14.99 per month for monthlies and weeklies. Those prices include access to back issues — but the back catalog starts from January 1, 2012, so readers won’t see content from before that.
But will you be able to use it?
The cloud-based app only works with an Internet connection, though users can save individual issues to their device to read them offline. There are no social networking or sharing features yet, though Guenther said those are planned.
For now the biggest limitation is platform. Guenther said Next Issue will submit an iPad app to Apple “within an eight-week window” but it’s unclear how long the approval process will take. And because Kindle Fire runs a forked version of Android 2.3, it isn’t compatible with the Next Issue app.