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Thursday, January 17, 2013, 09:15 am PT (12:15 pm ET)

Rolling Stone debuts in Apple's iPad Newsstand

Just under two years after the magazine's co-founder decried other publishers' rush to embrace Apple's in-app subscription plans for the iPad, Rolling Stone's first iPad edition hit Apple's Newsstand app Thursday.

Rolling Stone


The new Rolling Stone iPad edition brings all of the music news, album and movie reviews, celebrity profiles, and national affairs reporting of the print edition, along with support for rich media content. Articles on musicians and albums will contain links allowing readers to preview and buy songs from iTunes.

The publishers behind the magazine said the app is part of a planned progression that has seen more content from Wenner Media — the company that owns Rolling Stone, Men's Journal, and Us Weekly — appearing on the iPad. In 2011, Rolling Stone co-founder Jann Wenner said in an interview that magazine publishers were "crazy" to embrace the iPad, given the then-low sales of publications on the device, the cost of conversion, and a small revenue stream from digital content.

At the time, Wenner said he had no interest in brokering a deal with Apple, saying that would "mortgage [him] into the future on the basis of getting 2,000 copies sold a month."

Since then, a number of other large publishers have brought titles to the iPad. They have been encouraged, in part, by studies showing that iPad owners spend $70,000 per day on Newsstand, Apple's content aggregator and online content store for iOS devices.

The young history of magazine-style publications on the iPad is a mixed one, with some firms benefitting to the tune of millions, while others tailored to the platform have floundered.

The introduction of Apple's Newsstand feature reportedly led to a 268 percent jump in digital subscriptions for magazine publisher Condé Nast. Popular Science, too, saw a 13 percent jump in sales in the week after Newsstand's debut.

Digital subscription numbers, though, are said to remain far below physical circulation figures. Even after a 13 percent spike in Popular Science's digital subscriptions, total iPad subscribers for the magazine at the time were only just above 40,000, a far cry from the magazine's 1.2 million print subscriptions.

Subscription based content on the iPad runs through Apple's in-app subscription plan. Under that plan, Apple takes a 30 percent cut out of all transactions, another factor that has made Wenner and other publishers reluctant to embrace the platform.

The new Rolling Stone app is available in Apple's iTunes Store. Single issues cost $4.99, the same as a newsstand copy. iPad subscriptions are $1.99 per month or $19.99 per year.