I was looking at the wrong place to get the global digital Newsstand of my dreams.
Apple launched iPad subscriptions a couple month ago. The number of magazines that accepted the big cut and rules that Apple imposes on them so far. At this pace it will take ages until the iTunes store will feel like a newsstand on a street in Manhattan. Now I just stumbled over iPad apps called Zinio and PressReader. Ok I admit, I am owning an iPad 2 just for two days. Zinio offers subscriptions to magazines around the world at local subscription prices and PressReader gives you access to over 1,800 newspapers.
I just subscribed to the US Esquire Magazine for $8 (11 issues). I live in Germany and getting access to American magazines at this price is just awesome. I pay over $70 for my Wired Magazine print subscription. Sadly Wired is not in the Zinio portfolio. The Wired iPad app is still not an alternative at the $4.99 price per issue (What are they thinking?).
Zinio and PressReader give you access to a digital version of your favorite magazines and newspapers as they look on paper including all ad pages. They basically scan the print versions. There are no fancy multimedia features or text search. But who cares. All I want is access to magazines and newspapers around the world at a reasonable price.
I am not quite sure how this will play out in the future. Wiil apps like Zinio and Press Reader be pushed to the side by the Apple Magazine Subscription platform or will the co-exist. Apple is supposed to release a template based on the The Daily that makes it easy for publishers to offer iPad version of their magazine.
The only issue I have with the apps above is that you cannot use the iTunes billing. You need to pay separately via credit card, but for me it is worth the hassle.
I did not test PressReader, but Zinio works very well. Pages load fast and digital quality is fine. If a text is to small you can of course pinch-to-zoom. If you like reading magazines from around the world, Zinio is a great way to do it.
iPad apps mentioned above: