Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Rogers Media withdraws magazine titles from library service offering free downloads

For many library card holders in Canada, it may have seemed too good to be true -- that they could download free digital copies of leading magazines such as Maclean's and Chatelaine, using a service powered by replica magazine service Zinio. As it has turned out, after a brief period of access,  it was. 

Rogers Media has withdrawn most of its magazines from the service, attributing the decision to advice from the industry trade association Magazines Canada. Mark Jamison, the president of Magazines Canada said it was because of "content delivery expectations and restrictions". According to Rogers, quoted by the Globe and Mail, the decision wasn't its own, but Magazines Canada's, of which it is a prominent member and major funder. 

It can't be a complete coincidence that Rogers Media's recently announced partnership with the U.S. group Next Issue Media  to form Next Issue Canada is based on the intention to sell digital magazines packages, its own and as many as 100 American titles. Essentially at least part of this story is the clash between "free" distribution and "paid". 

The Zinio subscriptions which libraries paid in order to be able to offer free magazines to cardholders was based on a combination of a flat license and user fees. My local library has been offering 50 titles to anyone with a valid library card, until now. Some of the more popular ones included Canadian Living, National Geographic (with interactive content), O, the Oprah Magazine, Women’s and Men’s Health, Style at Home, Maclean's, Chatelaine,  the Economist, Hello! Canada, House & Home, Maxim, Zoomer and Sportsnet. As can be seen, Rogers's decision will leave a fairly large hole.

A note on the Zinio site says: 
PLEASE NOTE: Effective October 2013 Rogers Publishing Group has removed the following publications from all library Zinio collections: Canadian Business, Chatelaine, Maclean's, Today's Parent and L'actualite. We are working on replacement titles.
Until recently, Zinio and Magazines Canada have been partners in the Digital Newsstand, whereby MC member magazines are made available as replicas and by single copies and subscriptions in print. The relationship seems to have soured somewhat, as suggested by a note to members of the association yesterday. It announced that early in January, the membership directory site of the association is being re-engineered to become "Canada's Magazine Store", a one-stop shopping location for print and/or digital magazines from member publishers. 
"Magazines Canada's relationship with digital circulation suppliers is changing, including our ZINIO-based program, which pioneered awareness of and sales for our membership's digital editions around the world. However, the marketplace has changed; there are many more digital circulation options available to Canadian magazines and many members are taking advantage of that. With Canada's Magazine Store, Magazines Canada will enhance its ability to accommodate your digital and print sales efforts."
The new approach is part of a merger of the various services that the association offers its members, including previously separate direct mail, newsstand marketing promotions and the digital newsstand serv ices into a streamlined (and presumably less complicated and expensive) comprehensive consumer marketing program, available in print, on mobile and tablets. The initiative is called Canadian Magazines Everywhere

Zinio and Magazines Canada partnered starting in September 2009 and some 153 titles signed up to participate within the first nine months. 

Disclosure: Magazines Canada promotes the Digital Newsstand on this blog

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