Hearst made its official iPad debut today with an Esquire app that charges full newstand prices for each issue and doesn’t offer a subscription.
If this seems like a ripoff, it’s partly because, as Esquire publisher Kevin O’Malley explained, “we have to reshape expectations,” when it comes to digital pricing.
But the lack of a subscription, and thus a healthy discount per issue, is actually the result of a bigger struggle in the industry.
Publishers like Hearst and Time Inc. are unwilling to sell their magazine subscriptions through the iTunes store and share a percentage of that revenue with Apple.
Readers can console themsleves about the price problems with the soothing sounds of Javier Bardem reading poetry in spanish, a feature in Esquire’ first iPad issue.