Apple and Hearst have struck a deal to offer 20 of the publishing organization’s magazines on the iOS Newsstand before they’re available in print or via other outlets, reports The Loop. A new section on the iTunes store called Read Them Here First popped up today with a selection of Hearst publications that will all be offered at least a couple of days ahead of their print editions.

This deal is similar to the early digital window that the iTunes movie division has been cutting for many indie and mid-level Hollywood movies. Typically, a movie will show up in iTunes several days ahead of its wider digital release in iTunes and elsewhere. This compression of the release window and deal-cutting for exclusives is an effort by the distributors to slice off an extra bit of money for themselves and, in return, offer a tiny bit of exclusivity to one or more of the bigger digital marketplaces.

Screen Shot 2013 01 17 at 2.15.51 PM 730x364 Hearst begins shipping magazines on Apples Newsstand before anywhere else

I’ve never seen a deal like this cut for magazines before, so there appears to be an interesting case to watch here. If Hearst has some success, others may follow. In the ever-slimmer-margin world of print, a few extra copies subscribed to because they’ll be ‘first’ is money in the bank.

Tablet publications haven’t necessarily set the world on fire yet. The recent closure of The Daily has provided (at the very least) evidence that running such a publication on the old-world newsroom model certainly does not work. Newer, lighter-weight magazines like The Magazine provide a counterpoint to these weightier organizations, but even those are still very, very young. We’ve had some success with the TNW Magazine, for instance, but only on iOS. We recently ceased publication on Android due to lack of interest.

An experiment this is, but an interesting one.

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