NEW YORK: Time Inc has unveiled details of its its much-hyped magazine subscription website, Maghound, via which customers can switch titles at any time or cancel whenever they wish.

The new a la carte service, slated to launch in September, has been in development for four years and will make around 300 magazines available.

These will of course include Time's own popular titles such as People, Sports Illustrated and Fortune, together with a raft of offerings from other firms such as Hearst, Hachette and Condé Nast.

The economic slump is beginning to erode magazine sales and ad revenues and the market is forecast to continue contracting through 2011, according to investment bank Veronis Suhler Stevenson.

Maghound enterprises president Dave Ventresca is hopeful the new service may go some way towards stopping the rot: "The magazine industry is a little challenged now," he concedes. "It needs some innovation. And this is our best swing at it."

Ventresca continues: "We think people will stay Maghound readers longer because if you are subscribing to three titles [in the traditional way] and get bored with title C, you just cancel or let it lapse.

"If you're paying for three titles on Maghound and get bored of the third one, you're more likely to switch to another title since you're already paying for three."

Adds Patrick Taylor, from Ladies Home Journal publisher Meredith: "It's a great concept. "We're always looking for innovative ways to test our magazines with readers."

Data sourced from USA; additional content by WARC staff