I bought my first iPad magazine1 last weekend: one issue of The New Yorker.
It was $4.99. Most entire apps (including mine) cost $4.99 or less, once, and this magazine is $4.99 for just one issue. Ignoring what content and apps “should” cost, and despite knowing that this is a very good magazine, this felt expensive.
As I was flipping through it, when I saw the first of many full-page ads, I was offended. I thought, “I paid good money for this and it’s full of ads?”
Consumers have tolerated double-dipping — products that cost customers money and have ads — for over a century. It doesn’t feel as offensive in contexts that have always had it, such as printed newspapers and magazines, or cable TV.
But ads shoved into a non-free iPad or web publication feel wrong to me.
I don’t regret paying for Ars Premier or Consumer Reports because I get a clean, ad-free, reader-friendly experience in exchange. But I hesitate to pay for The New York Times because I know it’s still going to be full of ads, paginated stories, and distractions.
Maybe these different standards are because the contexts are so different: magazines, newspapers, and TV all feel cheap, since they’ve shat on consumers to make a few more cents for decades, but the iPad or a well-designed website are clean, high quality, and customer-centric.
Or maybe it’s just me. I just don’t feel comfortable paying for an iPad or web publication, no matter how good it is, and then having ads shoved down my throat. It makes me feel ripped off: what did I pay for?
Yes, I probably should try iPad magazines and newspapers more often, given the business I’m in. ↩