Every month, my new magazines arrive in the mail and I curl up on the couch with each new issue. I feel lavishly decadent as I flip through the glossy pages and envision myself in the latest looks. But there’s nothing lavish or decadent about the aftermath: the piles of old magazines gathering dust and cluttering up the living room.
Thankfully, there are now a number of digital magazine apps that can help us all avoid excessive paper clutter. And they’re super easy to use: you simply download the issues you want on a tablet, smartphone, or computer, and kiss your dusty stacks goodbye. While we'll never want to completely let go of our tangible, touchable periodicals, the convenience factor (not to mention instant-gratification!) makes these worth a try. Added bonus: never again will you walk out to your mailbox on a rainy day to discover that your latest Vogue has arrived sopping wet.
Of course many magazines, including Glamour and Vogue, now offer free digital subscriptions and apps with your print subscription. Some offer interactive features (videos, downloadable music) and special perks like bonus digital content and issues. But we still love these three popular apps, since they let you access all of your magazines in one place! Here they are, broken down.
How it works: Purchase a monthly subscription, then download the issues you want.
Cost: The app is free to download, and then the options are $9.99 per month for unlimited access to all monthlies, $14.99 per month for unlimited access to all monthlies and weeklies. It's an all-or-nothing model, in that you can't get individual titles.
Compatible with: iOS, Android, and Windows 8
Best for: Heavy readers! This will probably be the cheapest option if you read multiple (six or more) magazines regularly.
With Zinio, you can subscribe to more than 5,500 magazine titles or access up to six issues per month through a subscription service. You can also preview magazines and read certain articles for free.
How it works: Sign up for Z-Pass for access to up to six issues per month. Beyond that, you can browse the digital library to and purchase current issues and annual subscriptions to individual titles. With individual title subscriptions, new issues automatically download to your library when they become available.
Cost: The app is free to download. Then, it's $5 per month for up to six issues; annual subscriptions vary by title (For example, Teen Vogue is $2.99 per issue, $9.99 for a 12 months; Marie Claire is $3.99 per issue, $19.99 for a 12 months.)
Compatible with: iOS, Android, Windows 8, and Desktop Reader
Best for: Niche readers. Zinio has the largest digital library by far, offering more obscure titles like Gothic Beauty.
You can purchase single issues of or 1-, 3-, 6-, or 12-month subscriptions to Magzter’s 1,500-plus publications, including several international titles. A growing number of the options are interactive, meaning you can watch HD videos, take polls, and click through to the web.
How it works: Browse the digital library to purchase current issues or 1- to 12-month subscriptions. With subscriptions, new issues are automatically downloaded to your library when they become available.
Cost: The app is free to download, and By subscription, which varies by title and length. For example, Elle costs $3.99 per issue or $18.99 for a 12-month subscription and Harper‘s Bazaar costs $1.99 per issue or $19.99 for a 12-month subscription.
Compatible with: iOS, Android, Windows 8, and web browsers
Best for: Those who want access to interactive features—while only a few titles have these capabilities right now, Magzter recently launched a tool that lets publishers build fully interactive magazines, meaning that users can expect more interactive features in the future.
If you could read magazines all day, every day, Next Issue is the service for you. It’s also good for nostalgic types, because it's the only one of the three to offer unlimited access to back issues (Zinio and Magzter let you keep all issues from a subscription, but you have to purchase any earlier issues individually). If you’re only interested in a handful of titles, however, subscription-based services like Zinio or Magzter may be your best bet. The selection varies, but costs are typically comparable between the two (A 12-month subscription to Cosmo costs $19.99 on Zinio and $14.99 on Magzter; while a 12 months of Redbook goes for $19.99 on both sites.) Since the apps are free to download, we think it makes sense to get both Zinio and Magzter and comparison-shop for the best deals!