Next Issue Media, The Netflix For Magazines, Comes To The iPad

Magazine fans, rejoice: Next Issue Media, probably the easiest and most economical way for you to read your favorite titles, is now available on the iPad.

It’s not a perfect analogy, but the easiest way to explain the app is, yes, as Netflix for magazines. Next Issue is a joint venture from five big magazine publishers (namely Conde Nast, Hearst, Meredith, News Corp., and Time Inc.). For a monthly subscription fee of $14.99, readers get unlimited access to all of the magazines in the app’s catalog. You can also buy individual issues, subscribe to individual titles, or pay $9.99 nearly unlimited access (you get monthly and biweekly magazines, but not the weekly ones like The New Yorker and Time). Whatever your plan, CEO Morgan Guenther says he wants to create a newsstand-style experience, where you can browse and purchase multiple titles in one place, rather than opening up a new app (and learning new navigation styles) for each one.

Next Issue first launched in April, but only for Android tablets running Honeycomb or later, and with screen resolutions of 1024×600 or 1280×800. With all those limitations, Guenther says now that the earlier release was more of an “industry launch’> Today is first time Next Issue is available to a large group of consumers, with a bigger marketing push on the way.

When Guenther demonstrated the app for me a couple of weeks ago, it looked pretty similar to the Android app. To my mind, the main point of the demonstration was to show that you can take a more generic interface (rather than one designed for a specific title) and still deliver a slick, high-quality experience for each magazine. As a constant reader of The New Yorker iPad app, I didn’t feel like I was losing anything by reading The New Yorker using Next Issue.

The app now includes 39 titles — the new ones are Bon Appétit, Brides, Golf Digest, GQ, Self, Vogue and Wired. The catalogue will continue to expand, Guenther says, with the goal of doubling before the end of the year, but he wants to focus on “premium, high readership titles,” so don’t expect your favorite obscurity to appear in the app anytime soon. Guenther’s other plans include adding search, personalization, and social features, as well as expanding to other platforms.

You can download the Next Issue iPad app here.