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Amazon did a wonderful thing this week: Not entirely out the kindness of their hearts, the huge store and cloud storage company gave the world (or at least Amazon.com customers) a place to keep track of their print magazine subscriptions, from wherever they bought them. The Amazon Print Magazine Subscription Manager is a nifty digital file cabinet that keeps track of those subscription numbers and end dates, and lets you manage your addresses or even re-up for another year — again, tithing nothing to Amazon itself.
I say it’s not entirely out the kindness of their hearts because even a loss leader that increases brand awareness and gently encourages loyalty can pay big dividends. And, what do you know! Turns out Amazon is already a clearing house for lots and lots of print magazines, and wants to sell even more digital subscriptions for Kindles, especially for that brand-new tablet. If you already think of Amazon for books, the company wants you to think of them first for magazines, too.
It’s ironic, though, that this is yet another example where the magazine part of the media business has it all over the book part. Let’s set Amazon’s management system aside. Compare the prevalence of all-access digital subscriptions, which allow the reader to pay one price and get media every which way, with how books are still sold. Every personal library is a island; owning one format of a book entitles you to exactly nothing else.