We're interested in publishing our magazines to Apple's Newsstand and we're wondering how we would go about doing this?
I've read you need a developer kit (which we don't have), is there a way to just publish the magazines without this?
If you do not have a dev kit you can use other companies who build, release and manage subscriptions.
One such comapny is Woodwing
However these options are generally very expensive. You are better off (if you can create and develop the product yourself) purchasing the SDK license ($99 per year) or failing that you can use Adobe software to publish the Newsstand Magazine but that costs about $500
There is more information on Newsstand here
Among the various solutions you can choose from, there's iTablo that does exactly what you're looking for: iTablo site
It's not a watered down solution, but rather one that takes a different approach to the problem. You can use Brainiac Publishing to port your magazines to iOS (disclosure - I'm a founder).
The service has minimal upfront costs (starts at $10 a page) with all other fees tied to downloads and sales — that's 30% of sales to Apple, 10% to Brainiac, and a download fee of $.20 tied to Adobe DPS. The creation of the Newsstand app, design template, etc. are all done without cost to the publisher. So, publishers clear 40% on $.99 publications and 50% on $1.99 publications. (If you're free, you pay $.30 per download.)
The only caveat is that distribution (or projected distribution) has to be reasonably high since it's a back end revenue model — no back end, no revenue.
You can also have a look at www.lazypub.com (disclaimer: I am a founder). It is very easy to publish PDFs in your own branded newsstand app and even enhance those PDF files with interactive elements (videos, mp3 files, image galleries, URLs) without any programming skills. LazyPub allows you to create Newsstand applications with all newsstand-related features (subscriptions, in app purchases etc)