Ad Age has taken an in-depth look at the first six months of iPad magazine sales. The verdict? Depending on the genre and the type of engagement, iPad sales represent a sliver or a sizable chunk of newsstand results.
The data, which didn’t include Hearst’s new Esquire app for iPad, unsurprisingly showed that Conde Nast’sWired is the most successful magazine on the iPad.
The first issue of Wired on the iPad sold 105,000 copies, according to Ad Age. That was significantly higherthan the print sales for the same issue. Since then, Wired for iPad has sold an average of 30,000 copies per month, or about 37% of the newsstand sales.
The fact that the core Wired audience aligns well with many iPad owners (raise of hands – how many of you hadn’t purchased a copy of Wired in years before it hit the iPad? I know I hadn’t), not to mention its marketing campaign, is likely responsible for the continued success of the magazine on the new medium. Likewise, the fact that sales of Popular Science for iPad are equivalent of about 12% of newsstand sales is probably indicative of a tech/science connection with early adopters.
In comparison, lifestyle magazines like Glamour and Men’s Health are pulling in less than 1% of iPad sales when compared to their newsstand counterparts. People magazine for iPad is averaging 10,800 copies a week. However, the People app is unique in that it is free for print subscribers. Time Inc. declined to breakdown how many of its downloads were from print subscribers. Regardless, like Glamour and Men’s Health, iPad downloads only equal about 1% of People’s single-copy newsstand sales.
Magazines like GQ and Vanity Fair, which like Esquire, go for more in-depth articles and longer sustained reading experiences, are doing better than the lifestyle magazines but not as well as tech. GQ for iPad is averaging about 7% of its newwstand counterparts while Vanity Fair is doing about 2%.
Just Getting Started
As Ad Age notes, most advertisers that are embracing the iPad as a platform recognize that the digital magazine world is in its infancy. As impressive as iPad sales continue to be, they still only represent about 5.2 million US owners and the device is only six months old.
It’s also important to note that where digital magazines are really poised to take off is with subscriptions. Apple and major publishers continue to hash away at terms that will bring subscription pricing to the iPad. We agree with Ad Age and with publishers, once subscriptions become an option, the iPad magazine game will get a lot bigger.
Don’t Forget to Offer Value
When looking at what magazine titles are succeeding on the iPad and what titles are faltering, we can’t help but draw some direct correlations between those titles that have invested the most in the technology and those that are simply just putting a glorified PDF in an iPad-app wrapper.
Esquire and Wired are two examples of magazines that are really designed to make the most of the iPad as a medium. As Josh Koppel of Scroll Motion, the company responsible for Esquire for iPad, expressed to us, “it’s about being additive, not reductive.” In other words, it’s not going to be enough to just offer a digital copy of text on a screen. Readers want a better experience.
At least right now, providing that experience takes time. However, in the future, more tools and solutions for creating more robust experiences on the iPad will be available to publishers.
It will be interesting to re-evaluate the state of the magazine industry on tablet devices in another six to 12 months. We think this is an area that is only going to get bigger over time.