CHICAGO – Playboy has launched a web-based subscription service squarely aimed at iPad users that lets subscribers view every magazine since its first published issue.
Called i.Playboy.com, the service costs $8 per month or $60 per year and in addition to viewing the magazine’s bread-and-butter nudes, the site allows users to search for top authors like John Updike, Jack Kerouac, Kurt Vonnegut, Hunter S. Thompson and Norman Mailer by typing in their names.
The launch is also Playboy's clever way of gettting around the iPad no-porn policy by providing the content via the web and touts it on its site stating, "Every issue ever made on your iPad."
Playboy said the offering is “meant to appeal to that sense of collective nostalgia and affinity.”
"They no longer have to store 57 years, 682 issues, of Playboy under their mattress," said Jimmy Jellinek, Playboy's chief content officer.
Playboy has reportedly seen its circulation plummet from 3.15 million in 2006 to 1.5 million today and has tried a number of gimmicks including 3D glasses and a Marge Simpson cover, to attract readers — especially the younger demographic that abandoned the magazine because of its dated image.
The move online is being viewed as a new way to attract younger viewers and nostalgic baby boomers particularly fond of the magazine’s pictorials of classic movie stars and the insightful interviews with the likes of John Lennon, Jimmy Carter and Dr. Martin Luher King.
Jellinek called the website "the world's sexiest time machine" and "an anthology of cool" for a magazine he refers to as "the Mount Rushmore of literary greatness."
But magazine industry guru Samir Husni, director of the Magazine Innovation Center at the University of Mississippi School of Journalism doubts the service will do much for Playboy at all.
"The problem with Playboy is it not only lost its powerful interviews, but it lost its lead. This is no longer the ‘50s and ‘60s when people talked about the interviews. And who cannot see the girl next door naked in this day and age?"
"The questions are: `Do I need it? Do I want it? Is it relevant to me?'" Husni added. "The answer is: `No, no and no.'"
Husni also said that most subscribers will only join to find an issue they’ve missed and then drop the service.
Jellinek admitted that the website is something of an experiment aimed at a niche audience, but also insisted on its value because it offers a unique window into the past.
"We're not trying to achieve mass scale here and move the needle for the company in a great way," he said.
An Internet salesman in Chicago told the AP, "The guy who would want to go back and see them (the magazines) already has them stacked up in his crawl space."
His buddy, Ron Golminas however, disagreed and said that’s precisely the guy who would join the site.
"He can't get to them," Golminas said. "He's too old."