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I'm an assistant professor at the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University, where I teach and research how news sites can better reach their audiences. I received my Ph.D. from the Missouri School of Journalism at the University of Missouri where I was one of the founding editors of MyMissourian.com, a citizen journalism site for Columbia, Mo. Before graduate school, I worked as a community newspaper editor in Southern Utah and Southern California.

Newspapers, magazines should realize it’s worth it to subscribe through iTunes

I was lucky last night to meet and briefly chat with Stephen Dubner, co-author of Freakonomics and Superfreakonomics. When I mentioned to him that I love his new podcast, he told me he loves the iTunes model because it “takes care of all the subscription stuff for me.”

His comment made me remember all the uncomfortable meetings I had with circulation directors about the misery of home delivery or the hassle of single copy rack sales. What would news organizations give for a system that would handle subscriptions for them effortlessly? Is it worth 30 % of revenue?

That’s what Apple seems to be asking right now from big media house such as Time Inc. who want to sell iPad magazine subscriptions. I admit I don’t know all the details. I also understand the need to access and mine subscriber data. I know Apple can be a control freak that isn’t willing to compromise.

But I still have to ask if publishers shouldn’t be willing to give a little to get something invaluable. One of my main complaints about magazines on the iPad so far is having to download and pay for a new app every month. I like Zinio, even if if lacks some of the interactivity of the stand-alone apps because I’ve paid $8 for a year’s worth of Esquire. It’s always one of the first apps I recommend to new iPad owners. Zinio has significantly increased the number of titles it offers.

So what am I missing about Time Inc.’s and Conde Nast’s argument against offering iPad subscriptions? Please tell me in a comment below. I’d gladly trade 30 % of revenue and some subscriber data for guaranteed delivery.

I’m not alone. Read The Technology Geek’s post debunking some complaints.

By the way, I enjoyed Dubner’s lecture at Ohio University immensely last night. I’m such a geek I livetweeted it. You’ll be able to find most of my tweets in this search. If you’re not a podcast subscriber, I highly encourage it. It’s free, of course, short, to-the-point and insightful. I’ve learned, for example, that even though I’ve never played the lottery, I’d gladly sign up for a prize-linked savings account.

Dock Tips: As promised here’s a tip on managing your Dock in Mac OS X. I use a lot of folders, and you can easily add one to the dock. The secret is you have to add it to the right of the white checked line and you have to keep the folder somewhere on your hard drive. I, for example, I have a folder on my desktop labeled games. It’s full of the alias for all the games I play, included a couple of new ones I’ve downloaded from the app store. After creating the folder, I simply dragged it to my dock to the right of the line, and now I’ve eliminated nine icons from the dock.

Hope this helps!

PhotoCredit: Yes, that’s my signed book. I’m such a geek, but it’s my thing. One day I hope to pass on a great collection of personally signed books to my children. I’m up to about a dozen so far. I remember getting each one signed fondly.

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