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Amazon Wants Subscriptions Delivered in Two Weeks

Hearst is first publisher to agree to dramatically compress 6-10 week turnaround.

One thing the Internet has made glaringly clear is print's comparatively glacial distribution speed. Hearst is working to close that gap. At the behest of Amazon.com, the publisher is in the middle of a project to dramatically decrease first-issue delivery time from 6-10 weeks to two.

At MPA's Innovation Summit this week, Kristiana Helmick, Amazon's senior manager, said during her presentation that in an effort to streamline the magazine subscription ordering process, the online retailer has asked publishers to commit to a two-week order fulfillment timeframe for 2010. "Six weeks is not so great," she said. "We put a call out to publishers to shorten delivery time in 2010."

Hearst, she said, was the first to agree to work toward that goal.

Helmick singled out magazines as products that stymie Amazon's relentless focus on streamlining the order process. Sales of magazines have increased 80 percent year over year, she said, and added that the retailer asks a lot of publishers, particularly around pricing. "Amazon does not price discriminate," she said, "and that puts us at odds with a lot of publishers out there. We ask for the lowest price."

Now, publishers will also need to get product into the hands of subscribers faster.

A spokeswoman for Hearst declined to provide details on the project, except to say that the company is still working toward the two-week goal. "We are working with Amazon, as well as our own digital sales channel, to get to a goal of two-week delivery," she said. "Implementation is tied to our work on reducing the overall production time of creating, printing and delivering our titles."

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