Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Condé Nast, With Help From a Nearly Naked Rihanna, Takes Another Step Toward Digital Magazines

January GQCondé Nast has taken another small step into the future of digital magazines: The publisher has put a second edition of its GQ magazine up for sale on Apple’s iTunes Store.

Plunk down $2.99 and you’llĀ  get you the January issue of the magazine, featuring a nearly naked Rhianna, for your iPhone or iPod touch.

Aside from the almost nude pop star on the cover, this one mimics GQ’s first digital issue, which it described as an experiment, in every way. Same price, same treatment of ads and content, etc. The publisher says it’s going to start putting out every issue of the magazine on iTunes going forward, though some stuff could get tweaked down the road.

Starting with the March 2010 issue, for instance, you’ll be able to buy new copies of the magazine “in app,” meaning that you won’t have to download a new app from iTunes every time a new issue comes out. GQ may also tweak pricing and/or offer a subscription instead of one-offs.

Condé says it is gearing up to put out another title in the same format, though it won’t say which one (Do you know? Drop me a line, please.) I should note that Hearst’s Esquire rolled out its first iTunes issue/app today as well. No coincidence that both publishers are starting with aspirational dude-centric titles.

This stuff doesn’t seem as sexy as the plans the publishers have for much heralded but little seen tablets that Apple (AAPL) and others are supposed to be cooking up. That’s probably in part because it’s always more fun to think about things that could exist, as opposed to ones that are already extant.

But I think this is as important, in its own way, as the tablet demos we’ve seen from Condé, Time Warner’s (TWX) Time Inc., Bonnier, etc. And as relevant as the “Hulu for Magazines” consortium the publishers have finally announced.

Because Condé’s iPhone app is a pretty good proxy for the stuff the magazine guys want to eventually produce. And if people are buying this one (Condé won’t release numbers yet, but says it will eventually), then that’s a hopeful sign for the more advanced stuff we’re supposed to see one day.