Canadian Magazine Industry News
16 January 2011,     AJAX, ON.
Newsstand distributor taps into iPad app business
THIS STORY HAS BEEN UPDATED: Disticor, one of Canada's national magazine distributors also with significant business in the U.S., has entered the iPad app business in partnership with a British software developer.


Using software called MagazineCloner, Disticor starts with a publisher's PDF files—the same files sent to the printer—and creates a publisher-branded app that delivers iPad-optimized digital editions. Extras including web links and video can be added and sold to advertisers. Disticor makes the app available on the Apple App Store in iTunes.

Individual issues, including back issues and SIPs, are delivered through the app and the publisher sets the price. Apple takes its standard 30% from each sale. Out of the remaining 70%, the publisher receives half, and Disticor and the software developer claim the other half.

There is no charge to publishers for creating the app and subsequent issues. Revenue is generated when sales are made.

A sample home screen, showing the library of issues and other options
The app's home screen, showing the library of issues and other options

So far, prices have ranged from $0.99 to $5.99 per issue, says Disticor CEO John Lafranier. (Apple stipulates that all prices must end with .99.) He says there's no need for publishers to deeply discount the iPad versions as readers are motivated more by convenience than price, and digital editions typically offer more content than print editions, such as video.

"I wouldn't deeply discount. If you are a $4.50 magazine, you could make it $3.99," says Lafranier. "It's up to the publisher but the difference between $2.99 and $3.99 isn't a factor [for the reader]."

Subscriptions are also available. Subscribers receive an e-mail when their next issue is available, and the app counts down the number of issues remaining in the subscription. Publishers receive the subscriber's e-mail address and name, says Disticor president Mark Lafranier. However, publishers do no not receive any other subscriber data as all this remains with Apple's iTunes store—a major issue that publishers around the world are working to change.

Disticor has exclusive rights to the program for Canada, and non-exclusive rights for the U.S. A version of the software for Android devices is expected in the second quarter of 2011.

Once available through the App Store, the publisher can monitor sales (and editorial and advertising click traffic) in real time. Remittances are made monthly as funds flow through the App Store, then Disticor, to the publisher. Sales can count toward ABC audit figures.

While Disticor expects publishers to market apps through their magazines and other marketing channels, Disticor will also promote the apps through its established Magazine Cybercenter, a directory of more than 1,400 titles (

The U.K. women's title Women's Fitness uses the technology and is available on the App Store.

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