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iPad Magazine Sales Fall Off Dramatically

David Gilbert


iPad Magazine Sales Fall Off Dramatically

Magazine sales on the iPad were always going to be a unknown quantity but things looked bright when Wired’s first issue sold over 100,000 copies last June. This lead to a slew of high-end magazines offering their content on the iPad but figures now show that owners of Apple's tablet may have stopped buying digital magazines.

Audit Bureau of Circulation (ABC) figures show that Wired’s sales have dropped dramatically from over 100,000 in June to under 25,000 in October and November. And Wired isn’t alone with magazines such as Glamour, GQ and Vanity Fair also showing dramatic drops in sales. The ABC figures however are not a complete picture because some of the publishers do not reveal their sales figures for their digital editions.

Magazines such as Esquire, People and The New Yorker do not reveal how many downloads were made of their magazines however the trend would seem to suggest an overall fall in sales. Publishers will be hoping the slew of new tablet devices to be unveiled next week at CES 2011, will see an audience growth for these online magazines.

In November Apple’s Steve Jobs and media mogul Rupert Murdoch announced the iPad-only newspaper titled The Daily, which will have “a tabloid sensibility with a broadsheet intelligence." Also Virgin boss Richard Branson announced an iPad-only magazine entitled Project at the start of this month, which would indicate that many people believe there will be a future for these digital editions.

Source: WWD via Engadget


December 30, 2010, 4:29 pm

Some possible reasons:

1) The magazines are awful

2) The content is overpriced

3) A lot of iPads are now languishing in sock drawers


December 30, 2010, 4:59 pm

Also maybe some people finally realised that "Digital Magazines" are just a disguised form of something we already had... WEBSITES!


December 30, 2010, 5:19 pm

Yeah so? It's not like magazine editors are publishing their entire magazines on their websites at no cost whatsoever...


December 30, 2010, 6:37 pm

@Sleeper - I think mostly its because its overpriced, and there are several examples of subscriptions to the paper versions being cheaper than the digital versions




December 30, 2010, 8:05 pm

I think the magazine 'providers' still have a long way to go to exploit the mobile platform.

As a BBC Focus magazine subscriber, I downloaded the iPad app expecting great things. Unfortunately Focus on the iPad has not been without it's (significant) problems. Once these issues are fixed and publishers start to embrace the technology (rather than banging out a few cheesy one-offs), and Apple gets it's subscription model sorted, then maybe we'll see the revolution everyone was hoping for.

Arctic Fox

December 30, 2010, 8:44 pm

I think that the problem here, in part at least, is the issue of perceived value from the customer's viewpoint. When you buy a "real" newspaper or magazine the difference between that product the the conventional online version is very obvious (by definition). If that difference is something you enjoy then you may well prefer the one over the other. However, what if they are both digital editions and, for whatever reason, the customer does not see/appreciate the difference (such as it is) between the pay-for digital edition and the "free" edition? Are they going to perceive any added value? The given companie's web-designers have a real problem. They either cripple the "free" digital version such the the paid-for version looks good by comparison or they are faced with the huge technical/artistic challenge of making the paid-for version look so good that the customer will be willing to pay for it. The problem with that is of course that unless the company concerned intends to stop using the "paid for by advertising model" completely they cannot afford the "free" edition to be too "pony" otherwise they are going to loose advertising revenue - big time! I do not envy them their challenge.


December 30, 2010, 11:04 pm

No! No! No! No!

It's internet piracy. What's wrong with you people. Don't you know anything?


December 31, 2010, 12:21 am

The market for digital magazine subscriptions on the iPad was always overestimated. Simply selling thousands of apps for thousands of magazines isn't going to go anywhere. The App Store worked because Apple was thinking out of the box - a central storefront for apps, most of which were being sold dirt-cheap making them good impulse buys, was a pretty good idea, and it hit a vein of untapped demand. The one-app-per-magazine model just doesn't do that. If magazine publishers managed to find some sort of pricing and delivery model that brought them within the impulse- or curosity-driven buying range, they'd do much better.


January 1, 2011, 9:46 pm

Magazines appeal to loyalty. In a digital economy that is a rare commodity that firms can take advantage of. Simply package groups of magazines under one subscription price. The magazine will have to accept a smaller share of the profits, but at least they'd exist. For instance have a film pack which bundles together Empire, Total Film etc...


January 2, 2011, 4:44 am

This was always inevitable given that the entire tablet segment was void before any iPad hit the shelves.

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