Apple is teaming up with the Hearst Corporation to give magazine readers a reason to go digital for their magazine needs: early access. Cupertino has rolled out a new section in the iTunes Store dubbed "Read Them Here First," which features Hearst magazines like Esquire and Popular Mechanics before they're released through other digital storefronts or as physical copies. Hearst PR spokesperson Alexandra Carlin told AllThingsD that the number of days in which iTunes will receive a magazine in advance will differ depending on the title, but that it does apply both to subscriptions and to one-off purchases. "Apple suggested this initiative," Carlin said, "and it's a great offer they can provide to their newsstand users."

Heart will reportedly be offering 22 different titles through the "Read Them Here First" program, though as of this writing only 20 magazines are listed in the section. While Hearst is currently the only publisher participating, AllThingsD reports that an Apple spokesperson did indicate the program is open to other companies. Whether advance copies will prove to be a key differentiator for Apple in the battle for magazine mindshare, however, remains to be seen.