Here’s a deal that should appeal to any value-conscious investor. How would you like to receive on your tablet the latest issues of such popular business or investment magazines as Bloomberg Business Week, Bloomberg Markets, Fortune, Fast Company, Money (for Americans), MoneySense (for Canadians), Entrepreneur, Inc., and Canadian Business for just $15 a month? Or money-saving magazines like Consumer Reports or ShopSmart? Or weekly news magazines like Time, Newsweek and Maclean’s? Not $15 each, mind: but $15 a month for all of these combined plus many other general-interest magazines, for a total of at least 100 world-class magazines?
That includes The New Yorker, New York, Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair, Wired, Popular Science, Architectural Digest, Cosmopolitan, Chatelaine, The Oprah Magazine (O), Sports Illustrated and SportsNet, plus lifestyle and fitness magazines aimed at men or women, and many more.
The Netflix of magazines
We’re talking of course about Next Issue, which has been in the U.S. for several years but is just now rolling out internationally, starting with Canada. The short-hand description of the service is “the Netflix of magazines.” If you have the current (Dec./Jan. 2014) print edition of MoneySense, you’ll see a full-page ad for Next Issue on page 17, with details at nextissue.ca. You can try it free for 30 days but my prediction is you’ll be hooked, even if you need a 28-hour day to absorb it all.
Here’s the thing: at this price, you don’t have to feel compelled to read every issue from cover to cover. When you subscribe to an individual magazine—as I still do for The Economist—you feel compelled to read it all to get your money’s worth. The latter is one of the few titles not yet included in Next Issue. However, “We hope to include more business titles, including The Economist, in the coming months but we don’t have firm commitments yet,” a company spokesperson said, “For example, the full suite of Rodale titles are in the process of being added.” (Rodale specializes in health and wellness, with titles such as Prevention and Runner’s World).
But even with the first tranche of titles, Next Issue’s price is so reasonable you can feel free to graze and hop from one to the other without feeling guilty about skipping around. You almost feel like a bee sucking honey as it flits from flower to flower. For example, a recent cover story in Time was about the secret Internet: the vast part of the web that’s not so public as the sites we all use everyday. That’s all I read on my first dip into the magazine, since my attention was diverted to the latest issue of Wired: it features Bill Gates as guest editor, with a bunch of book suggestions.
To clarify pricing, the monthly cost is $9.99 for the basic plan (monthlies or less frequent periodicals) and $14.99 for the unlimited premium plan, which includes weeklies.
Could MoneySense be affected by this new service? Should we worry about our subscriptions being cannibalized? We may lose a few but remember, a direct MoneySense subscription includes printed copies, plus our All Access pass to the dedicated iPad app and premium articles at Moneysense.ca. By contrast, Next Issue delivers purely electronic editions to the major tablet computers: iPads and now iPhones, Android tablets and Win8 devices. That should appeal to the environmentally conscious, although I know many of our readers still like the printed product. We’d also like to think Next Issue will introduce the magazine to many potential new readers, including some from the U.S.
Rogers Media is the main Canadian partner behind Next Issue, joining five U.S. publishing giants that were already providing an American version of the service: Condé Nast, Hearst , Meredith, NewsCorp and Time Inc. Rogers is also the parent company of MoneySense. Kenneth Whyte, formerly president of Rogers Publishing Ltd. and the founding editor of the National Post, is the new president of Next Issue Canada. As he told MoneySense‘s tech columnist, Peter Nowak here, the average subscriber samples 20 different magazines through the service. Depending how many you choose, it could easily run into thousands of dollars if you subscribed to multiple magazines the old-fashioned way.
The challenge is being selective
I’ve been using Next Issue for a month now and am totally sold, although overwhelmed by the sheer volume of content coming at me (not just from Next Issue!). There’s never a lack of reading material: I envy retirees who will certainly extract maximum value from this cornucopia.
Of course, as some critics have noted, the challenge is in being selective. That’s why those of us who are focused on investing may be inclined to winnow the selection of magazines down, keeping in mind it’s also useful to be aware of global news provided by magazines like Time or Maclean’s.
If you’re still working and investing for an eventual retirement, as I said at the outset, this astonishing wealth of quality financial information can’t help but speed your financial independence. You can select whatever magazines you want for automatic downloading and will receive email notices of their arrival. While it’s tempting to just pick them all, I’d suggest choosing the ones you really don’t want to miss as too many automatic downloads can start to chew up memory on your device. You can always delete older issues as the new ones arrive, but if you wish to go back and re-read archived issues, they’re always available to re-download.
“Experiential” Christmas gifts
I also think Next Issue would make a great Christmas gift. The current issue of MoneySense contains an article about “experiential” gifts. The idea is that the best presents are gifts of experiences like travel or educational courses, not the “stuff” you buy in malls at the last minute. And last week, MoneySense.ca managing editor Stefania Moretti published an online piece on ten Gifts that Keep on Giving. (skip to Number 8 for the Next Issue slide here.)
What better experience could you give to a loved one than the world’s greatest magazines, with a new one arriving almost every day of the year? Rogers customers can now try the service free or 60 days: it becomes formally available to the rest of Canada on Dec. 15, with the first month free.
Don’t forget to put a subscription on Santa’s wish list!