Yesterday, Conde Nast finally caved in and is selling iPad subscriptions to the New Yorker at a reasonable price. Not only that, but if you get the print one, you can supposedly get the digital and iPad version for free.
I say supposedly because it doesn’t work for me. Conde Nast hates me because I’ve been a loyal subscriber for six years now.
Why I’m excited about the iPad
For those of you not following at home, I used to have print subscription. Then when the Kindle came out I switched to a Kindle subscription. Because of how brain-dead the publishing industry is, a switch meant buying the Kindle edition and discontinuing my print subscription when I noticed an overlap—that’s because the Kindle app is considered a different product to Conde Nast.
After a few months of using the iPad, I decided to abandon my Kindle and use the iPad Kindle app. The only thing I lost in the trade was my digital subscription to the Kindle was my New Yorker subscription. I decided I wait it out until Conde Nast either caved in to Apple’s egregious subscription policy, or sold their U.S. offerings on Zinio. In the meantime I looked for substitutes to tide me over.
The closest thing I found was Esquire which is like trying to split the difference between GQ and New Yorker—if you are older, stupider, and more liberal—if that’s even possible. You then have to supplement it with Smithsonian and Rolling Stone, but pretty soon you’re reading about 2x more for half the content—and it’s hard to plow through an issue of the New Yorker, let alone New Yorker plus another New Yorker’s worth about movie stars, clothing you will never buy, and some gadgets that you read about last year on Gizmodo. I even tried Maxim: worst $5 I spent in my life—and I once spent $7 to see Highlander 2 in the movie theatre: “there should have only been one.” I actually could feel my IQ dropping as I read that magazine; coincidentally, I had the same feeling while watching Highlander 2.
Before this week, you got the iPad subscription only by buying each issue individually. This meant you could enjoy the New Yorker on your iPad for the measily price of $234.53/year. Or, you could just purchase a new, top-of-the-line Amazon Kindle 3G, get an ad-free Kindle subscription to the New Yorker, and pocket $10 every year.
I’m shocked that the New Yorker sold poorly on the iPad!
What I chose
I decided on the print+digital subscription. Partly because I think giving 30% to Apple for a magazine sub they don’t even develop, design, or deliver is highway robbery, and partly because this means I don’t have to spring for two Kindle subscriptions if Marie wants to read some of it. The only cost is $10 and getting a dead-tree mailed to me every week. But since I’m going to be able to ditch Conde Nast’s dead-tree Wired and dead-tree GQ soon, I think I may pull in net zero with respect to my plans of world dominance through selfish deforestation.
Yes, this works out to $70/year + a whole lot of recycling. And yes, that’s 2x the cost of a Kindle subscription, but I sold my Kindle. Plus, it means I can pawn my New Yorker DVD-ROMs on some unsuspecting soul.
If you are a loyal New Yorker subscriber, Conde Nast hates you
I purchased it. The first rude awakening is that it took me about 10 minutes to figure out that you cannot log in before you purchase it. An account is only for changing your account information and accessing the digital version, not for actually buying or renewing an expired subscription.
Then I try accessing my digital version. Nope: I have to “verify” my account—you know the same account with the same e-mail I’ve had ever since magazine went online? The verification step consists of typing your (new) account number and your zip code.
(Oh side note: I have two New Yorker accounts, their e-store uses an entirely different login system and I once bought their digital archives on DVD-ROM there in order to recycle my old print mags.)
But then you hit the submit button and nothing happens.
Okay, maybe it’s because I, like 8% of the internet, use Safari. Let’s try Firefox. Nope, same deal.
Maybe 1Password had my password wrong, I should reset that. Did that—can you believe I was able to do that even though I haven’t “verified” my account?—but same deal.
After much handwringing, I figured out the trick is to register for a NEW account—that’s right register for a new account with the same e-mail as your existing account. This way the “challenge” of the existing account isn’t locked behind some broken form. Oh, by the way, not this registration link, but the link they call the “digital edition” registration, which is helpfully buried behind a FAQ page which isn’t linked in any of the obvious places—unless “obvious” means teh Google.
So I’m in right? Yes for online; no for iPad. When I get to the iPad, the authentication is rejected. All iterations of my passwords are rejected. When I try to register for an account, the e-mail and password are rejected (all iterations). Finally, I tried to register for a new account, gave my subscription account number and zip code, and said I want a new e-mail account using the same e-mail that I already have typed in six or seven times now and it lets me in!
(Oh yeah, the form fields in the “Tablet access” screen are broken: you have to tap them a zillion times before they engage and autocorrect is active everywhere but the password field. You know its bad when you memorize a 10 digit account number by osmosis just because you keep having to type it in.)
Whoo hoo! It then lets me in to a page saying I can “buy” any of the issues at $4.99 or subscribe at $59.99 a year. Somehow it created a new account but didn’t attach my existing subscription to it.
I go back and try to re-create my account and I get: “Account number is already in use.” Argh! Six years of post-graduate education in Physics, ten years of commercial web development experience on some of the biggest sites of the internet, and I have to resort to this and sit through their auto-reply that warns me under penalty of death not to actually reply to their e-mail.
(Yes, it’s actually easier and cheaper to subscribe to Maxim 14 times on your iPad than to subscribe to the New Yorker once.)
So much fail.
Let’s review shall we
I only did this so I can get New Yorker on my iPad. I cannot get the New Yorker on my iPad. The only purpose of the print version is to for bathroom emergencies because Marie keeps forgetting to refill the T.P. bin next to the toilets.
And all this could have been solved if engineers working at Conde Nast knew how to write this particularly difficult SQL query:
SELECT * from users WHERE email=?
Really, is this too much to ask?
I sent two support requests, one through the website and one through the feedback portion of the iPad app. I received no response (other than the automated one) from the website request. From the iPad app, I received a response asking me to go through the process and tell them what is wrong—even though I went through the process and told them what was wrong in my original request on the iPad version.
What it looks like is that if something goes wrong during registration, it marks the subscription as being “used” but it may not have correctly marked your account as having a paid subscription for it. You’d think they would put something that sensitive in a transaction and check if something is being used by doing a
SELECT FROM ipad_users WHERE subscription_id=? and noticing that it returns 0 rows.
This time they sent me generic instruction on how to log in to the system. They still refuse to read where I told them I can log in from the website just fine but, when I log in from the iPad, it doesn’t have my subscription attached! This is the third correspondence with them that could have been resolved if they had read my original message instead of sending me back boilerplate.
Hopefully this will explain it to them:
As I have mentioned before that I can log in to the website just fine and view the articles online. However, when I try logging in with the same account from the iPad it asks me to purchase even though I have the print subscription.
Let’s go over what happened:
- Purchased subscription to print version because you are offering iPad with it and I’d rather give you money than Apple. I could care less about the print format.
- Register and bound subscription online in your website
- Tried to log in to iPad version. This said there was no subscription
- Tried to log in click on the red button and go through the registration of subscription to existing account. This failed because it said there was no such account in the system (tried multiple times with different passwords, same deal).
- Tried to log in and click the red button and register a subscription with a new account using the same e-mail as my existing account. This succeeded, but it dropped me to a logged-in state without my subscription attached!
- Logged out and logged in. Still not attacched
- Tried to register subscription on iPad with existing account, but I get thrown out even earlier saying that that subscription ID is already in use!
The Subscription ID is not in use. You somehow deleted the subscription id from the iPad account even though I can access (but never use) the online edition.
As for the print edition? I have it sent to my new mailing address where I don’t live yet, so I don’t know if I’m receiving them. I don’t care about them.
Maybe now they’ll clue in that when they do account creation, they should handle the merge properly so the subscription_id is preserved or simply lock out the ability to create accounts on top of existing accounts. The three phase process where they handle transfering subscriptions across what must be independent databases (for each “product” even though it’s for the same magazine) is beyond clueless—just what you expect for a publisher of print magazines.
I got a terse e-mail from them (I guess they’re sick of me) telling to quit out of the iPad app and log back in.
- Logged out of the New Yorker App.
- Tapped the app button to go to the home screen.
- Double-pressed the app button until the multi-task menu showed
- Held the New Yorker icon until it shaked and clicked the “-” sign.
- Navigated to the New Yorker app and launched.
- Waited for the app to load fully
- Logged back in.
So that must of fixed it or they updated the database for me. Whatever, it works. Hope it works for you, if not, contact support through the iPad app and then correspond to them by e-mail after they reply.