Condé Nast-Amazon deal makes magazine subscriptions quicker, but watch the fine print

I’d been meaning to subscribe to Bon Appétit for awhile and now I’m glad I waited: Condé Nast (Bon Appétit‘s publisher) and Amazon (s AMZN) announced an “All Access” partnership Tuesday that lets readers quickly subscribe to CN magazines through Amazon One-Click and then get digital access to them immediately.

The partnership is supposed to remove a lot of the hassles that are associated with traditional magazine subscriptions. You don’t have to fill out a little paper subscription card and drop it in the mail. You don’t have to create a new account with Condé Nast, since (presumably) Amazon has all your shipping and credit card info already. You can activate digital access — which is included with all CN print subscriptions — right through Amazon’s website, rather than doing so through the magazine’s website.
Once you’ve activated your digital access, Amazon provides instructions for accessing the magazine on your device of choice — iPad (s AAPL), Kindle Fire, Android (s GOOG), Nook Tablet (s BKS) or Next Issue. Basically, you have to go download the magazine app, and then be sure to sign into it using the login info you created with Amazon — DON’T create a new digital subscription. Make sure to closely follow Amazon’s instructions by device.
amazon conde nast all access

Pricing: This is not necessarily a great deal

One quibble: The pricing — at special “introductory rates” — is slightly misleading. Normally, when you subscribe to a magazine, you get a one-year subscription. But the deals that Condé Nast and Amazon are offering are only for half a year. When I subscribed to Bon Appétit, I assumed I was paying $6 for a one-year subscription; in fact, after reading the fine print, I realized I was paying $6 for six months. A subscription through Bon Appétit‘s website is $12 per year plus a $3 charge for “shipping and handling.”
Bon Appétit is one of the more expensive magazines in this offer, though. VogueVanity Fair and Golf Digest are also $6 for six months; Wired is $5 for the period; and Lucky and Glamour are $3.
When the six months is up, don’t count on keeping the introductory rate: Amazon will auto-renew your subscription “for one year at the lowest renewal rate then available to customers.” Right now, in the instance of Bon Appétit, for instance, that’s $19.99 a year — $5 more than you’d pay if you subscribed through the Bon Appétit website.
In other words, you’ll actually pay a premium in some cases in exchange for the ease of going through Amazon.

You get extra digital months

One of the annoying parts of subscribing to a magazine in print is that it takes awhile to actually start getting the magazine in the mail. My first print issue of Bon Appétit is set to arrive in October.
Yet the Amazon-Condé Nast partnership allows immediate access. So I wondered how long I was actually going to get digital access for. Let’s say I don’t renew my magazine subscription in six months: Will my digital access end in February (six months from now) while my print subscription ends in April (six months from October)? Nope, Amazon says: “The print and digital subscriptions will end with the same issue, so customers get a couple extra months of digital with the All Access package.”
In the meantime, the digital access is a good deal because it gives me access to digital editions of ALL Bon Appétit‘s archives, not just the current issue.

No New Yorker yet, but it’s on the way

The partnership doesn’t include all of Condé Nast’s magazines yet; notably, the New Yorker — which has a great iPad app — is missing, along with titles like GQ and Allure. Those magazines will be included by the end of the year.