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How to sell magazines on app stores avoiding commissions

Luca Filigheddu


There is no doubt that having your own digital magazine app on the stores allows you to reach more potential readers and, consequently, sell more issues. However, there is an aspect that should be taken into consideration: commissions represent 30% of your sales, which means your revenues will be only 70% of the total price of your magazines sold on the app.

In this article, you will learn how to sell magazines on app stores avoiding commissions.


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App stores and how to avoid commissions

First of all, we should acknowledge that the App Store and Google Play opened up an entire spectrum of mobile opportunities for publishers, letting them create and sell digital magazines optimized for tablets and smartphones. Consider also that if for some reasons you have decided to make your content free, you don’t have to pay anything to the stores.

Having said that, here are some ideas to pay fewer commissions or even to avoid them entirely.

Website subscription

The most common trick to avoid commissions and sell magazines on app stores is offering web subscription via your own shop. In this case, you have a double benefit: you have more details about who your subscribers are and you don’t have to pay any commissions. Why? Because your readers create their user profile on your website, they can buy the membership online and then they can log in to the app using the same user. The app stores usually charge the commissions only when there is an in-app purchase, but in this way, the subscription is made directly on your website. Utilizing your own system, you gain full control of your customer’s data compared to the limited access app stores are giving you.

Using this method, you can keep all the revenues and not only the 70% remaining after paying commissions. Moreover, your readers are device independent using their users and passwords on every channel.

To implement this, as we said, you need to make your subscribers log in to read your publication instead of having an in-app purchase. However, there are some restrictions which you should take into consideration. Marketplaces such as Google Play and App Store limit you in marketing your own sales channels: you can bypass this rule by mentioning in your app that people could pay their memberships on your website. Anyway, you should keep the in-app purchases as well to offer the customer his preferred channel to buy magazines.

Many platforms help publishers to do so in an easy way. Paperlit, for example, is perfectly integrated with iOS, Android and web services, such as WordPress and Shopify.

Platforms and solutions

There are several options when it comes to launching your own subscription portal. Shopify, for example, is a great solution to sell your digital magazines on your own online shop and it’s supported by many plugins which make your life easier.

Other popular third party magazine subscription management services are Cambey & West and CDS, which also offer other correlated services, such as advertising, customer service and auditing.

But if you really want a tool which is perfect for publishers, then check out PubCommerce. Developed by Paperlit, it is designed to help magazine publishers sell their content online.

Paperlit solution

Thanks to Paperlit, publishers can build and upload their digital magazines on the app stores, and they can also sell them directly on their websites, using PubCommerce and the web reader.

Paperlit is an all-in-one solution to create and market digital magazines through different online channels, and it has soon become a landmark for publishers all over the world. You can manage all the online channels where you sell your publication on just one platform, implementing the subscription on your website and allowing readers to choose where to read your magazine, either on mobile devices or on your web reader.

Vanity Fair Italia, one of the clients of the platform, is a good example of integration between the apps and its own website, where it has a subscription page and a subscriber login.


At this point, a question comes up: is it worth it to have your magazines on the app stores? As we said at the beginning of this article, you should remember that the App Store and Google Play allow publishers to reach new customers and they allow readers to read their favourite magazines on their tablets and their smartphones. So, the answer is definitely yes. You should just keep in mind you can integrate different online channels to avoid commissions and give the readers a complete experience.