Next Issue Review: Netflix for Digital Magazines

by Sarah White Reads (7,436)

TG Rating

Rating 1 to 10, top score 10.
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8.60

TG Ratings Breakdown

    • Design
    • 8
    • Functionality
    • 8.4
    • Ease of Installation/Ease of Use
    • 9
    • Performance
    • 8.6
    • Cost Benefits
    • 9
    • Total Score:
    • 8.60
    • Rating 1 to 10, top score 10
  • Pros

    • 80 popular magazine titles available at the touch of a button
    • Gives readers access to titles they may not have paid to read otherwise
    • Relatively low monthly rate compared against newsstand prices
  • Cons

    • May be missing some popular titles for readers
    • No support for smartphones at the time of review
    • Not cost effective for casual magazine readers

Quick Take

Overall, Next Issue is cost effective to those that love to read magazines and wish they could subscribe to more, but can't budget the yearly cost.

While books have easily made the transition to digital formats, it hasn’t been as an easy transition for magazines. Next Issue moves to save readers the cost of rising magazine prices by offering 80 of the most popular publications for one flat monthly rate. Think of it as Netflix for your magazine subscriptions.

Next Issue Windows 8 Surface ProTitles include Better Homes and Gardens, Cosmopolitan, Cooking Light, Car and Driver, Golf Digest, GQ, People, The New Yorker, Time, Sports Illustrated, Wired, and  Ron Swanson’s favorite publication, Wood. The list goes on, and, Wood aside, nearly every name is recognizable.

Next Issue makes use of the fact that most popular publications, including all of the titles offered with a subscription to Next Issue, have optimized their digital content for tablet use. This means, that there are often interactive elements to the digital issues that include additional information, video content, and more.

Performance

The Next Issue app houses all of the content within, so users do not have to have a different app for each magazine. But users can also download publications to directly to the home screen for easy access. Subscriptions can be set up to automatically download new available issues as they come out, and as long as an issue is downloaded while the device has a connection, it can be read offline. The app is intuitive, responds well to gestures, and keeps the overall theme simplistic.

Screenshot (6)

In landscape mode, users can choose to zoom in on the magazine so that they can scroll up and down the page. In portrait mode, the magazine takes up the full screen, but if the tablet in use has a unique screen size, like the Microsoft Surface Pro, then the magazine will be letter boxed in portrait mode. Landscape images may be letter boxed with some other publications as well, but it varies from each magazine.

Swiping or tapping left or right flips between pages smoothly, just like any other eReader or tablet app would. Pinch to zoom also works in the app, so users can zoom in on a paragraph or an image. While reading an issue, a navigation menu can be brought up by tapping the top of the screen, which lets users quickly flip through the table of contents to find specific sections they are interested in reading.

To save space, magazines can be stored in the cloud and downloaded to devices at will. Magazines download quickly, and only took about 30 seconds on a Microsoft Surface Pro running Windows 8 and with a wireless connection running at speeds of 300mbps.

Image Quality

The images look crisp and clear and text is easy to read, however, this will obviously vary based on the resolution of the tablet in use. TechnologyGuide used a Microsoft Surface Pro running Windows 8 to test the app and the magazine images looked great. TG found that the text was crisp and easy to read, especially when zoomed in on an article. Images were bright with a good resolution, and the white of the magazine pages looked the right shade of white, not too warm and not too cool.

Media within each issue also loaded quickly and played without any problems. For instance, in the fitness subscriptions, users can watch videos demonstrating exercises. This is far better than still images and gives readers an extra perk to read the content on a tablet.

Minor issues arose when downloading a publication and opening it before it had completely finished loading. Images took an extra second or two to open in this case, but it can easily be avoided by waiting a few extra seconds for a download to finish. Next Issue has an easy to navigate interface, that lets users flip through the entire catalog of magazines. Users can choose to look through all available magazines, or just the ones they have downloaded to the home screen of the app.

Priced Lower Than the Average Subscription

Next Issue Windows 8 Surface Pro

Magazines are expensive per issue and it isn’t always practical to subscribe to every magazine you would like to read. The great thing about Next Issue is that it costs about the same per month as buying around two or three magazines by the issue, or having six yearly magazine subscriptions; but in turn, Next Issue supplies users with more titles than they could probably have the time to read in one month.

Next Issue offers a 30 day free trial on its website, and the two subscription levels offer a different amount of titles. The Basic plan is priced at $9.99 a month, and includes every subscription on Next Issue that is released monthly. The Premium subscription is just $14.99 and includes both monthly and weekly publications such as People, Sports Illustrated, Time, and more. Next Issue even gives access to all back issues from 2010 and earlier, on Android and iPad, but only from 2013 on for Windows 8, which is when it added support for the operating system.

The caveat here is that with the basic subscription, users will pay around $120 over the course of a year, and the average yearly subscription to a magazine such as Wired is $19.99 per year for print and digital. This means users will have to weigh the cost effectiveness against the number of magazines Next Issue offers that they would like to subscribe to. On the flip side, the monthly fee averages about the cost of six magazine subscriptions, or the cost of buying two to three issues of magazines like Real Simple or Fitness magazine per month. So if users can find at least six titles they would love to read each month, or if they already have two or three magazines they grab in the grocery store check out line that are offered through the app, it has already paid for itself. Also, many magazines will release articles on their websites over the course of the month. Eventually, with magazines like Wired, it can be feasible to read the entire issue for free. But that being said, with Next Issue, subscribers get the full issue right out of the gate, so they won’t have to keep checking back on a publication’s website to see if an article is available.

Screenshot (7)Subscriptions are on a month by month basis and can be cancelled at any time. It is available for the iPad, Windows 8 tablets or computers, and Android tablets with a display resolution of 1024 x 600 or 1280 x 800. Next Issue has plans to bring availability to all mobile devices in the future.

At a glance, the idea of having a Netflix for magazines seems like a good one, given the number of great publications still out there and the prohibitive cost of acquiring each. The Next Issue app does nothing to take away from the appeal, and even adds a few features to make it a more appealing concept. Of course, that all depends on how much one spends on magazines a month, but the monthly cost of Next Issue is not prohibitive for even casual magazine readers.


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