It took some haggling, but Time Inc. is going to get its magazines on Amazon’s new tablet, alongside titles from many other big publishers.
Time Warner’s publishing unit told its employees this afternoon that five magazines — Time, Fortune, Sports Illustrated, People and Real Simple — would be available on the Kindle Fire tomorrow.
The announcement comes after negotiations that dragged on for weeks and continued through Tuesday morning — a process that baffled most of Time Inc.’s peers, who signed on to the new device in time for its September unveiling .
Supposedly the major stumbling block for Time Inc. was that Amazon has retained the ability to set the retail price for the magazines it sells, which means it could theoretically slash prices or give away the magazines free. That scenario would be a major bummer for all the publishers, who have been diligently trying to convince subscribers and newstand buyers that they’ve been underpaying for their reading material.
But Amazon has told Time’s competitors, like Conde Nast, Hearst and Meredith, that it doesn’t intend to beat down prices, and that assurance was apparently enough for them. Jeff Bewkes’ company apparently needed more convincing.
This never seemed to be an issue, by the way, with Barnes and Noble and its new Nook tablet; Time Inc. was a part of that gadget’s launch announcement.
Like the titles that Time Inc. sells via the iPad and other Android tablets, access to the Kindle Fire editions will come via bundled deals, where consumers pay a single price and get both paper and digital copies of their magazines.
Here’s the memo that consumer marketing head Steve Sachs sent out at the end of the day:
November 15, 2011
To: Time Inc. Employees
From: Steve Sachs
Re: Time Inc. Titles Now Available on Amazon’s Kindle Fire
I’m pleased to share the news that Time Inc. has just reached a deal with Amazon that will allow subscribers to our magazines to enjoy their subscriptions on the new Kindle Fire. Starting tomorrow, subscribers of FORTUNE, PEOPLE, Real Simple, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED and TIME will be able to access digital editions of these magazines on the Kindle Fire at no additional cost. Other Time Inc. titles will follow shortly.
To date, hundreds of thousands of Time Inc. print subscribers have authenticated to receive their digital editions, with thousands more being added each week. Our agreement with Amazon continues to expand our All Access strategy, adding the Kindle Fire to the growing list of platforms where consumers can enjoy our content, including Apple’s iPad, the Barnes & Noble NOOK Color and NOOK Tablet, the Android Marketplace and Next Issue’s store.
It’s important to note that Time Inc. is the only publisher designing all of its digital magazine apps specifically for tablets. Because we’re producing a rich consumer experience made for each device, our brands translate beautifully — and the Kindle Fire is no exception.
Adding the Amazon launch to our platforms has meant that IT and other dedicated teams have had to work quickly and nimbly. I want to offer a special thanks to all those who have been hard at work bringing our brands to life on tablets.