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Time Inc. reportedly is creating a consortium of magazine publishers, including Conde Nast and Hearst, to develop a digital newsstand that will deliver content from their various magazines to e-readers like the Amazon Kindle and charge for it in a variety of formulations. Newspapers could also be part of this consortium, according to some reports.

Such a digital newsstand would looks to solve a number of problems for publishers that have seen their revenues plummet as more and more people get their information from the Internet, and as advertisers look to shift their marketing dollars to media perceived as being more relevant. By charging for content – something that most magazines and newspapers have found can be a challenge in an environment where people expect information to be free – and by marshalling their titles in the same way that Apple did with music, movies and television programs in its iTunes store – the publishers hope to put themselves sin charge of their own destiny…and avoid having a third party (like Apple) come in and dictate a business model to them.

According to a Reuters story on the subject, “A formal announcement of the venture could come within a month, and the service is expected to launch sometime next year, the source said, adding that many financial details still must be worked out.”
KC's View:
So in other words, if you are thinking about building a new periodicals section in your store, or expanding the one you have, it might make sense to think again…because it is possible that a lot of this business could be going away. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow…but soon. And it won’t be coming back.

It annoys a bunch of you when I say this, but it is essentially the same process that eventually will make the physical video rental business obsolete – in cases where the product can be digitized and downloaded, it will be…and the physical product will be an anachronism and, eventually, a memory. (Note that the Wall Street Journal has a story saying that it is cutting back on its DVD sales displays. At least one of the reasons for this is that DVDs are going to go away.)