Apple Newsstand: slow death or a paid subscription?

That's a first! Donating subscription money to charity. But why?

Imagine you are a FREE and successful iPad publication like TRVL. You want to get on Newsstand because you know it's likely to boast your downloads by 500% or more. Then you find out Newsstand is out of reach unless you offer a PAID subscription... But you really don't want your reader's money!!! What do you do? You turn it into something good and donate it to charity. (*) Newsstand requires a subscription, either paid or free, but TRVL's software supplier only supports paid subscriptions.
TRVL was the first iPad exclusive magazine in the world. It was very eager to be on Apple's Newsstand when it launched.

Michel Elings, founding publisher: "In fact, we had been waiting for Newsstand to arrive ever since we heard the first rumors, knowing a free magazine like TRVL would greatly benefit from direct competition with magazines like National Geographic Traveler, which are still charging $4,99 for a single issue."

Much to our frustration our software partner (WoodWing) wasn't ready for Newsstand when it launched. And when they eventually were, we learned that we had to offer a paid subscription. WoodWing does NOT support a free subscription. It does, however, support a paid subscription.  This didn't make sense, because TRVL is a free publication.

In the meantime we read other Apps jubilant reports on how their downloads exploded with Newsstand. 
Elings: "So here we are, faced with a devilish dilemma: to join Newsstand and offer a paid subscription when we really don’t want our readers to think we are after their money, or not to join Newsstand and die a slow death somewhere in a forgotton corner of the App Store…" 

We had to work our way around it, bend some rules maybe, find a way to enter Newsstand, offer a paid subscription and at the same time make clear to the world that this wasn't our idea. That it wasn't a sly way of reaching into the pockets of our readers. TRVL is the highest customer rated magazine on iPad, it has much to loose. 

We did the only thing we could and turned it into something good.

1. In order for TRVL to be on Newsstand, we offer a paid subscription for $0,99 per month
2. We asked our readers what their favorite charities are and will donate the subscription money to the 6 most popular (Amnesty, Red Cross, Warchild, WWF, Kiva, WSPA).

We realize this is a first: offer a paid subscription and then give the subscription money to charity.

TRVL has to offer a paid subscription to enter the newsstand, but the readers are not obliged to subscribe. If they choose not to, they can still continue to download, read and enjoy TRVL for free. As always.

(*) Newsstand requires a subscription, either paid or free, but TRVL's software supplier Woodwing only supports paid subscriptions.
"As the purse is emptied, the heart is filled." Victor Hugo (giving TRVL a thumbs up)
"It is more agreeable to have the power to give than to receive." Winston Churchill (sharing TRVL's philosophy on free)
"Get out of here!" Jochem Wijnands, co-founder of TRVL, when he first heard TRVL had to offer a paid subscription
"It’s kind of like having the paper delivered to your front door. Only better." Apple on Newsstand
About TRVL

TRVL is a peer-to-peer travel booking platform that empowers you to help others book their dream trip. It will help travelers save time, travel better and earn up to 10% per booking. Read what has to say