Subs Price Increase – Why?

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  • Subs Price Increase – Why?
  • Premier Icon Mark
    Subscriber

    If you haven’t already picked this up, we are increasing the cost of our subscriptions at the end of this week. I want to explain why and I also want to give you a heads up on how to avoid it.

    We have more subscribers than we’ve ever had before. In fact, despite the digital publishing revolution we are surfing along with at the moment, we also have the highest number of subscribers receiving the printed version than we have ever had. Of course all our print subscribers also get all of our digital content too, but still, it’s good news for print lovers – Print is not dead! 🙂

    But, print is also still very expensive and is getting more expensive month by month. More print means more physical distribution and that is where the bulk of the cost increases are coming from. paper itself is also getting increasingly more expensive. We’ve gone down the route of making the mag more tactile and lovely because we know that’s what our subscribers prefer, and so far the numbers are suggesting that was the right thing to do.

    But, physical production and distribution isn’t our only cost increase. The fact we are producing content on a daily basis right here on the site and critically, developing all our content for publication on so many new channels (Channels is corporate BS for all the different digital and physical ways we can package up and sell Singletrack)from tablets to desktops – iOS to Android – is creating new costs that we have to bear. This year we have brought the lovely Grace on board as our junior designer. Pumping out content both in print and digitally has massively increased the design work and there’s no way we could keep up with the demand with just a single designer. This extra cost of production is compounded by the fact we have a simple policy with our subscriptions that we want you to simply pay once and get everything on everything. We don’t want you to have to pay again if you want to read your mag on a tablet. You are subscribing to the content we produce, not the mechanism by which you read it.

    All of this ads up to make our current prices of £35 for a print & digital subscription and £20 for a digital subscription unsustainable. So we are having to reluctantly put the prices up to make sure we can keep going and developing more and better ways to get our content out to you.

    That price increase starts at 5pm this coming Friday. After that, if you buy a subscription it will be at the new prices of £39.99 for Print and Digital, £24.99 for Digital and £2.99 for monthly digital access.

    Yes, that’s quite a hike on the existing prices but they are necessary.

    However, I did mention that there is a way to avoid those increases.

    1st – If you are already a subscriber then sit back and relax. We are holding your subscription at the old £35, £20 price for at least another year. So, your next renewal, whether that is next week or a year from now, will be at the old price.

    2nd If you are not a subscriber yet then you have until 5pm on Friday to subscribe at the old price. Not only do you get the £35 price but your next renewal a year from now will also be held at that price.

    So, only NEW subscribers after 5pm on Friday will be paying the new prices.

    Now, we aren’t increasing the prices without offering up some new features at the same time. With the launch of issue 78 next week all our subscribers will also be given optional access to their subscription via the existing iOS app for free via their Premier account settings page. We’ve wanted to do this for a long time as having subscribers buy a subscription through iTunes has been a barrier to our principal of pay once and get everything. There is a cost to us for that and that is also another reason for the price increases, but we hope it will make our subs options much simpler and clearer. You will simply subscriber here on our site and then if you want it we will set you up with an account in our mag app that will allow you to access your 8 mag issues in the app as well as via our own Mag Archive here on the site.

    We will also soon be launching our secret project currently code-named ‘Garlic Bread‘ to our subscribers that we are actually more excited about than the iOS app integration coming next week. But that’s all I can say at this stage 🙂

    Announcing higher prices is never easy, but we’ve thought long and hard about how to do it and also make sure that our loyal subscribers are affected the least by it. Our genuine intention is to sustain what we do and keep on producing the best mag we know how to produce and keep this website and all our digital projects running. I’m still convinced that we offer up the best value bike subscription anywhere and there’s much more to come yet.

    If anyone has any questions then I’ll be happy to try and answer them here. Or you can email me directly if you want to discuss anything off forum.

    T&Cs here

    druidh
    Member

    Does £15 cover the full cost of producing, printing and delivering the printed version or is Digital keeping Print alive by way of subsidy?

    Premier Icon Mark
    Subscriber

    Neither format is subsidising the other. I know trying to justify the cost of a digital subscription that doesn’t have any physical existence or apparent distribution costs is hard to do. But the biggest, unexpected cost in digital distribution is the fact the government apply VAT to digital products at the full 20% rate. Printed subscriptions are zero rated. Now the other kicker is that we include digital subs with ALL our subscriptions so that means even if you just get the mag but don’t bother with the digital stuff, there’s till VAT in there going to the government. Our VAT bill has gone up a lot since we’ve been producing digital subscriptions.

    Along with that cost there’s the additional staff costs of producing digital subscriptions. Everyone now has more work to do to get the content out in all versions and that’s more clearly demonstrated by the fact we’ve had to employ an new member of staff just to cope with the design demands of digital publishing.

    Another specific cost increase related just to print though is postage. The mag weight has increased with the relaunch by 50%. That’s directly reflected in the cost of posting the mag, compounded by the postal price increases that kicked in a few months ago.

    Looking back, it wasn’t the best point in history to decide to make your mag a lot heavier.

    Premier Icon chakaping
    Subscriber

    Shocked about the digital access for print subscribers making it VAT eligible! Do you have to charge VAT on the full subs price or a portion of it?

    MBUK give away a lot of socks and hats, do they have to pay VAT d’ya think?

    My question: What happens price-wise if I want to switch from print to digital?

    Premier Icon Fishd
    Subscriber

    The fact that government charge VAT on e-books and the like is just preposterous… it really needs it’s own HMRC classification to distinguish itself from software.

    Premier Icon Mark
    Subscriber

    If you want to switch from Print to Digital you will carry credit with you to your digital sub. The system will calculate everything for you (It does this by working out a daily rate for all subs options and crediting you for what you’ve not had yet – if that makes sense)

    The VAT man is not daft when it comes to VAT on print subs that offer a digital element. They quickly spotted the publishers who were trying to suggest that the price was solely for a print sub and then digital part was given away for free – hence why they didn’t charge VAT on the print&Digital sub.

    Now we have to declare the proportion of the sub that is for print and the proportion for Digital and pay VAT on the digital portion. So it’s not VAT on the entire P&D price just the p;art that is digital.

    The rules regarding covermount gifts is even more complicated. Effectively the cost of the covermount must not exceed £1 (or somewhere around that figure). If the gift cost less than this threshold then the gift can be considered free for VAT purposes. If the gift costs more than that then the VAT man will take the VAT from the entire cover price of the mag+gift.

    This is principally why most cover mounted gifts are so crap, because publishers want to keep the costs below £1 to keep the complicated paperwork to a minimum.

    druidh
    Member

    Mark Alker wrote:

    Neither format is subsidising the other. I know trying to justify the cost of a digital subscription that doesn’t have any physical existence or apparent distribution costs is hard to do.

    I’m not unhappy about the cost of my Digital subscription. I am surprised that £15 covers the additional cost of the Print though, especially given the cost of postage. I guess you get some mega-deal on that though. If I post all my Christmas cards to you, could you post them out for me?

    Premier Icon Mark
    Subscriber

    That covermount gift price threshold rule makes sense when you consider what could happen if it wasn’t there.

    An extreme situation…
    A manufacturer could give us a product worth £100(exVAT or £120incVAT) and we could covermount it and charge £105.95 for the mag.

    The mag is VAT free and comes with a ‘Free’ gift worth £120 but we are only charging £105.95.

    We get our £5.95
    We pass on the £100 to the manufacturer
    And the VAT man gets nothing.

    Effectively, together with the manufacturer we’ve sold a product and dodged the VAT.

    Hence the covermount free gift threshold rule.

    Premier Icon Mark
    Subscriber

    I’m not unhappy about the cost of my Digital subscription. I am surprised that £15 covers the additional cost of the Print though, especially given the cost of postage. I guess you get some mega-deal on that though. If I post all my Christmas cards to you, could you post them out for me?

    We do get a deal. We use TNT bulk post and it works out about half the 2nd class rate per mag. The net cost to print a mag (just the print costs – not the cost of content, wages etc.) is about £1.25/mag.

    We could print&post a subscription of 8 issues for £15. So long as we didn’t pay any staff, contributors, rent, rates, servers and everything else.

    So you see, we charge for the cost of physical production plus the cost of content production.

    If we only produced a digital subscription then it would still cost £24.99

    dabble
    Member

    An extra 10p a week to subscribe! Thats proposterous! Who do you think you are providing such quality content at such a cheap price?! I’ll be cancelling my subs right away.
    (If you haven’t realised I’m being facetious and only have good things to say about the magazine and site. Keep up the good work lads and lasses.)

    Premier Icon Mark
    Subscriber

    Thanks 🙂

    Premier Icon timraven
    Subscriber

    Worth every penny IMHO, I can spend £40 and then some on a good night out, makes my subscription a bargain and it’s easier on the liver 😆

    Premier Icon chipps
    Subscriber

    If it helps you, timraven, know that some of your £40 will eventually go towards paying the staff here so that they can go for a night on the town now and again too. So in effect, you’re still contributing to a night of binge-drinking. 🙂

    (There’s a reason why they don’t let me play with the spreadsheets here…)

    philfive
    Member

    To be fair it is still a bargain, I know I have whined about not being able to get the free t-shirt offer, in reality i wanted the t-shirt 😀 but the magazine is still good value.

    As for the IOS app costing you money, do you actually need it? you can save the copies of the magazines in ibooks without using itunes anyway so you maybe able to save money that way.

    Premier Icon Mark
    Subscriber

    The whole App line of mag publishing is an interesting topic of conversation here in the office and to be honest I’m not totally convinced it’s going to be the future of digital publishing. But it is currently an area that no publishers can really be ignoring – just in case it turns out it is the future 🙂

    But we are not relying on an App future alone. We have other cunning plans in the works that we seriously are keeping under the radar right now. More on project Garlic Bread soon though 🙂

    Dave
    Member

    *peter kay*
    Garlic Bread? 😉
    */peter kay*

    cupra
    Member

    We don’t want you to have to pay again if you want to read your mag on a tablet. You are subscribing to the content we produce, not the mechanism by which you read it.

    Yes, but I just want to subscribe to the mag, print only and am not fussed about the extra online content or reading it on my tablet – but I can’t. Just call me awkward.

    Premier Icon Mark
    Subscriber

    If we just sold the mag as a subscription in the old style publishing sense with nothing else added on digitally we would have gone bust 18 months ago after the high street bombed. The fact we had digital publishing well underway at that point means that the mag still gets printed today. So, in a very real sense the digital publishing developments we have made and continue to make are directly responsible for the printed mag continuing to exist at all.

    cupra
    Member

    I get that Mark, but from an admittedly simplistic viewpoint at £39.99 I am paying for digital content I don’t want and if I just got the mag you wouldn’t have to pay the VAT. All academic anyway as it is still good value at the price 🙂

    Premier Icon Mark
    Subscriber

    It’s only £35 if you get it by Friday 5pm 😉

    andermt
    Member

    Sorry not trying to stir anything up here but in the OP of this thread you stated

    1st – If you are already a subscriber then sit back and relax. We are holding your subscription at the old £35, £20 price for at least another year. So, your next renewal, whether that is next week or a year from now, will be at the old price.

    I’ve recieved an email from yourselves today which states

    I am writing to explain that there will be a small increase in the cost of your annual subscription to Singletrack when it is renewed.

    So which is correct?

    Premier Icon Mark
    Subscriber

    There’s a full explanation of how we are doing this here..
    Price Freeze T&Cs

    Basically there are a few subscribers who’s current subs rate is an old an historic one that will be lower than the current £35 rate. We need to bring those few remnant accounts up to the current levels. The good news is that those accounts will only be brought up to the current £35 or £20 rate and then held there for at least one more renewal, which is effectively 2 years worth.

    toby1
    Member

    I know people will moan (as that is actually what this forum is for) but it is a mild price increase in a world where everything is getting more expensive, I don’t think it needs so much justification given the obvious increases in quality of the print, paper and content recently.

    cheez0
    Member

    Wow its been a whole day in STW land and no-ones mentioned fat cat bonuses and champagne lifestyles!

    No mention of any cost cutting measures from STW towers, efficiency savings such as cycling to work, using only one gear, re-using tea bags, buying cheap flapjack etc?

    Just hammer the poor punter in his Audi, in these austere times.

    😉

    Premier Icon Brainflex
    Subscriber

    What is the price rise for international subscribers?

    Premier Icon fozzyuk
    Subscriber

    So where is the Android App, I don’t remeber seeing that ?

    Premier Icon Mark
    Subscriber

    Android App is imminent.

    labsey
    Member

    One thing I’ve noticed about the website, the Reviews and Trail Guides sections are rarely updated. I know a lot of reviews go into the mag but there must be plenty that don’t make the cut. Perhaps we should submit our own!

    I will say I’m happy with the mag, the quality pics are worth the subs alone.

    eyerideit
    Member

    Do you sell much through Apples newsstand / iTunes? I thought most of the digital sub bods would just download the pdf through one of the recommended app (Good reader or Bookman) Thats what I do, then you (ST) get the whole sub price and the big A doesn’t take it’s cut.

    There’s are other publishing format such as Zinio, that allow you a multi platform distribution network without having to go to the expense of building native apps. But you probably know this and have explored all the options so I’ll shut up.

    Finally does ST have plans to make the digital version a richer experience than just a PDF. Like embedding video and having interactive sections and adverts, spreads changing layout when you switch the orientation of the device etc. Wired magazine is a good example of what can be achieved in digital magazine publishing.

    trevron73
    Member

    Mark-ive just upgraded as its well worth the asking price and ill use the money saved to buy beer ,keep up the good work and keep up the ,features great mag looking forward to the next issue thanks

    Dave
    Member

    One thing I’ve noticed about the website, the Reviews and Trail Guides sections are rarely updated.

    Don’t worry that’s going to change….

    🙂

    danielgroves
    Member

    Sounds like some good changes coming, which will mean carrying less to work for me (as I can read Singletrack on my iPad over lunch/on the bus).

    I never realised that taxes were so bad for digital products, I always figured they would be less if anything, but then again anything the government controls…

    Good work, it’s still as much a bargin as ever. 🙂

    Premier Icon doom_mountain
    Subscriber

    Thanks for the update Mark, it’s really nice to read an honest and measured response regarding price hikes.
    I’ll happily keep subscribing as I think Singletrack is still great VFM.

    Premier Icon Brainflex
    Subscriber

    Can I ask again, what is the increase on international subs? Do international subscribers get it VAT free?

    Premier Icon Mark
    Subscriber

    International digital subs are same as UK ie £24.99
    International print&digital subs will be £59.99
    There’s no VAT on subs outside the EU but that’s offset by the extra postage costs outside the EU

    Premier Icon Schweiz
    Subscriber

    Mark,

    Switzerland is non-EU (and therefore VAT free) but typically has the same postage costs as other non-UK EU countries. I suppose this terrible injustice is offset slightly by living in a mountain biking mecca but I am still outraged none the less.

    Cheers
    Schweiz

    Premier Icon Mark
    Subscriber

    Yes, we know it’s perhaps unfair on certain countries that don’t sit within the EU but we’ve taken the pragmatic view on simplification of our subs system by not having an overly complex price/tax breakdown. We now have a postal service that charges us just three prices.. UK, Europe and ROW. Previously we had a postal price for every individual country that we need to track and the only way I could calculate a price tariff was to average out the lot. That lead to some countries actually causing us to make a loss on every sub while it was hoped that would be compensated for elsewhere. For example this made me a little sad every time we sold a sub to a Brazilian 🙂 To make things worse the price per country changed depending on their market/currency variation/volume sent and it lead to an almost impossible task in trying to calculate what we should be charging for overseas subs.

    Now we have moved to TNT and while not being without some issues we do have a very simple pricing model of a set price for EU and the ROW. That makes it easy for me to work out where the prices need to be set 🙂

    Was that too much? 🙂

    Premier Icon metalheart
    Subscriber

    Just wondering that I can no longer switch off ads is part of the ‘new deal’?

    Always thought it was a major benefit in being a P member 😀

    wors
    Member

    1st – If you are already a subscriber then sit back and relax. We are holding your subscription at the old £35, £20 price for at least another year. So, your next renewal, whether that is next week or a year from now, will be at the old price.

    I’ve just had an email saying my subscription will increase by a fiver?

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