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Top Publishers Join Forces to Create the ‘Netflix for Magazines’

It seems as though it was inevitable. At a time when media companies of all types and sizes are embroiled in a battle for your eyeballs so to speak, a new digital clearing house has emerged that offers all your favorite magazines in one place.

"We think of Next Issue, very simply, as NetFlix for magazines," says Morgan Guenther, CEO of Next Issue Media. "You get all the greatest titles in the world, available on-demand on your tablet for one low price every month."

Specifically, $10 to $15 month, or a $120 - $180 year depending on which plan you select and whether you want access only to monthly titles, or seek to read weekly titles as well. Next Issue currently includes about 75 magazines via Apple's (AAPL) iPad or Google's (GOOG) Android tablets, which account for about about half the industry's overall circulation.

For comparison, a one-year subscription to People magazine alone would cost about $100, so for even the moderate readers out there, Next Issue clearly offers value. "So if you think about our business, we're going for the reader," Guenther says, explaining his company's relatively narrow stable of titles compared to a universe of 5,000 to 8,000 magazines. While they currently, theoretically, have access to half the available market, adding additional content in the future is not only easy, but likely.

One area where he says Next Issue differs from NetFlix (NFLX) is that there is no waiting period for new releases, since the service offers all current content and back issues of its available titles.

As for its effect on the magazine industry, a $25-30 billion business Guenther describes as still being robust but in secular decline, the fact that all the publishing heavyweights have not only signed-on but also are stakeholders, speaks volumes.

"We are often likened to being the Hulu for magazines since we're owned by the 5 big publishers in the world; News Corp (NWS), Meredith (MDP), Hearst, Time Inc., and Conde Nast," Guenther says. Even so, he emphasizes that his is a different, far more niche business than one targeting a mass population via mailboxes. For Next Issue, he says, it's all about "mobile, high-resolution, internet connected devices."