Magazine publishers have more directly embraced tablets over more than a year as it became clearer that they were boosting the bottom line. We may be witnessing a watershed moment today, however. Hearst has started publishing issues for 22 of its magazines in the iOS Newsstand days before their print equivalents hit the racks -- that we can tell, the first time a major magazine producer has given tablets an early lead. While the full terms aren't public, Apple has confirmed to AllThingsD that other publishers are welcome to take the same route, and it mentions in the App Store that other online stores don't have the same privilege. The early access has clear competitive benefits for both Apple and Hearst, which get customers to flock away from competing e-bookstores and publications, but it's also a sign of Hearst's confidence in the tablet as a medium: much like movie studios, it's betting that digital is strong enough to stand on its own.