Friday, October 22nd, 2010

"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.)

18 Comments / Post A Comment

HiredGoons (#603)

Everyone I see with one of these things is just playing videogames so that's my guess to venture.

dntsqzthchrmn (#2,893)

Watching Doctor Who thank you very much!

(And catching up on everything in Project Gutenberg and Librivox.)

Aatom (#74)

Angry Birds.

LondonLee (#922)

Seeing as I am right now designing the iPad version of the magazine I work at I guess I should have something to say about this. I'm not surprised the sales have dropped after the initial curiosity, they cost $5 a pop partly because of Apple won't let them sell on a subscription model and there isn't even a magazine section at the App store so it seems to me that on one hand Steve Jobs has held out this thing as a saviour of publishing and on the other he's royally fucking with the industry.

But the other thing is that iPad mags just aren't as good as their print versions (yet), sure there's a few interactive bells and whistles but they're still fairly static repros of the print version which is down partly to the fact that magazines HAVE TO present all the content that was in the print version if they want it to count in their circulation figures and the fact that, really, few magazines have the time and money and people to do it properly. There will be a great iPad magazine one day that really utilizes the platform and all it can do but where I work the same two people (me and my assistant) who do the print mag are also being asked to do the iPad version and we just don't have time to make it insanely great – the potential is there but not on the budgets and deadline most of us are working with at the moment. And fuck knows what we'll do when we also have to design for an Android tablet.

Well that got longer than I planned.

iantenna (#5,160)


Flashman (#418)

Just save it as a PDF.

LondonLee (#922)

a) That only works for horizontal view, you still have to do a vertical version (unless you're Sports Illustrated I guess)
b) That's a bit boring

DoctorDisaster (#1,970)

Lee covered it: how the fuck do you sell a magazine without subscriptions OR newsstand sales? Magic?

Jobs held this thing out as the savior of publishing because he's a moron who says that sort of thing about whatever plastic doodad they shove into his hands before wheeling him out on stage.

SeanP (#4,058)

This is exactly it. No one is going to spend five fucking dollars on iPad-ified magazine when they can get it at the newsstand for a couple of bucks. Or subscribe to the print version even cheaper. Maybe if they get to the point that the iPad versions of magazines are way, way more compelling than print versions, they'll start to sell. But seriously, people. A goddamn movie (printed onto a DVD and everything!Q) is only about 15 bucks. What are they thinking?

mojowen (#2,894)

Porn. And I\'m not talkin bout that seamlessly app delivered, hell or even flash delivered, smutt. This is the straight torrented .avi type of shit we used to keep gigs of on our computers back in 2001. ohhh yeah

SeanP (#4,058)

Does anyone actually buy porn anymore? The internets are stuffed to the gills with free stuff (or so I've been told).

Rod T (#33)

They're on Grindr.

Niko Bellic (#1,312)

I thought it's supposed to be used for magic.

scrooge (#2,697)

There was a guy on the NY-LA flight the other day who spent the entire time poking his finger (curiously, the one you use to make obscene gestures) at his iPad screen. I guess it was a videogame. By the end of the flight the screen looked as though it had been rubbed in butter. And I bet he had claw-hand the next day from having to hold the thing in his left hand for five hours.

I would love to check out the ipad version of the New Yorker and Vogue, but i am not paying for print and digital both. no way no how

Pop Socket (#187)

I can't even get around to reading the dead trees version of Wired let alone pay five times as much to ignore it on a device that cost hundreds of dollars.

anarchosodomite (#8,152)

Why any magazine or newspaper needs a platform other than a web browser to publish is beyond me.

Donald Nickles (#4,374)

I'm waiting for my print subscriptions to expire before I start buying things I already have. Obvs I'm super thrifty with my cash.

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