"It's Not About Scale": Defending the iPad's Magazine Sales Numbers

As things are currently set up, people with iPads who want to buy a magazine on their shiny device have to go searching for it. There’s no magazine rack, or what have you. Still, I’m not sure you can put that sunny a face on the figures for sales of magazines on the iPad, as reported by Ad Age. Wired at least started extremely strong, at 100,000. Now they do about 30,000 an issue. Still pretty good! People is doing 10,000 an issue (and that includes free digital issues to print subscribers). Vanity Fair does about 9000 an issue. Other magazines are doing even fewer sales; many are doing about 1% of newsstand sales. There were 4.19 million iPads sold in the third quarter of this year; some say there’s about 7.5 million iPads sold in total, though some estimate it’s just 5 million. So at most, and the very most conservatively, at one point for Wired, during the to-date best-selling moment for magazines on the iPad, 1 in 50 iPad owners bought an issue. That number dropped to about 1 in 150. What are the other 149 people doing with their iPads is what I want to know. (Besides having Obama sign it.)

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