From the editors: Next Issue Canada is the next chapter of the digital revolution

The 'Netflix of magazines'

Jessica Darmanin

Canadians are keen and active participants in the digital revolution. In some cities—Kelowna, Regina, Victoria—90 per cent or more of residents are online. Across the country, 83 per cent of us regularly use the Internet, with the fastest growth coming, perhaps surprisingly, from those over the age of 65. And most folks are doing more than just checking the weather and Facebook.

According to an October report from Statistics Canada, the value of all Internet purchases last year hit $18.9 billion, up 24 per cent from 2010, with the average shopper spending $1,450. Almost a quarter of Canadians sell, as well as buy, online, and nearly half regularly make phone and video calls over the Internet.

Just like Canadians themselves, Canada’s favourite magazines have also been embracing the digital revolution.

The travails of traditional print media are well-known and much-discussed across North America. Last year, considerable angst attended Newsweek’s decision to end its 80-year-old print edition, in the face of declining circulation and rising costs. Other daily and weekly newspapers have closed up shop or dramatically altered their offerings. Maclean’s is certainly not immune to the challenges affecting the rest of our industry, although magazines are proving to be more resilient than newspapers in the current environment, as evidenced by stable print circulation and rapidly growing online readership.

With more than 2.1 million total weekly readers, the paper version of Maclean’s continues to be a major force in Canadian news and opinion. Our commitment to in-depth reporting and big narrative stories remains a core strength. But we’re also determined innovators. Maclean’s was the first major consumer magazine in Canada to produce a tablet edition. And, together with our website, our digital platforms have won numerous awards for cutting-edge format and exclusive content (including best tablet edition and best news coverage at the recent Canadian Online Publishing Awards). Now we’re excited to be part of the further evolution of the magazine business: Next Issue Canada.

Sometimes called the Netflix of magazines, Next Issue allows readers to enjoy an enormous all-you-can-eat buffet of the world’s best magazines for a single low price. It promises to change the experience of reading forever.

Next Issue is a historic partnership between Rogers Publishing, the parent company of Maclean’s, and the biggest names in the American magazine business: Condé Nast, Hearst, Meredith, News Corp and Time Inc. These companies may be fierce competitors when it comes to attracting readers, but now they’ve come together to usher in a new era of digital accessibility.

Almost every magazine published by the six partners is available to Next Issue subscribers for digital download on tablet, iPad or laptop. This includes such iconic U.S. titles as Time, Rolling Stone, Sports Illustrated, Vanity Fair, Shape, Golf Digest, The New Yorker, Road & Track, Better Homes and Gardens, Consumer Reports, Cosmopolitan and Wired. Plus Rogers’ well-known mastheads, including Maclean’s, Chatelaine, Canadian Business, MoneySense, L’actualité, Hello! Canada, Flare and Sportsnet. It’s an entire newsstand in the palm of your hand. And all for a monthly fee of just $9.99 for monthly titles or $14.99 for all monthlies, plus weeklies such as Maclean’s, Time and Sports Illustrated.

While the nickname “Netflix of magazines” gives a sense of the concept, Next Issue actually represents a substantial improvement on the Netflix model, as there is no waiting period for new content: The latest issues download while you’re perusing the index page. And, compared to other online subscription services, Next Issue provides a convenient, single app for all 100-plus titles. This means every magazine has a similar interface for easy reading, and you can flip between titles with the flick of a finger.

It doesn’t take a futurist to appreciate the massive changes Next Issue could hold for how magazines are produced and consumed. Publishers are anticipating lower costs, a common digital platform and a much bigger audience. Readers will enjoy their own portable libraries full of premium content that’s constantly updated, entirely customizable and accessed with a single monthly bill. Free time is now the only constraint to how much they wish to read.

As the habits of Canadians evolve to embrace new technologies and digital activities, Maclean’s is changing alongside them. Print, online or mobile, we’re committed to serving our readers in whatever format they prefer. And there’s more innovation to come, including a redesigned website next year. The only thing that isn’t changing is our promise of continued high-quality reporting, writing and opinion.

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