Magazines Failing On iPad, Just Like In Real Life

So much for hopes that tablets would become the savior of the flopping magazine industry. Every magazine that reports its sales on the iPad has signaled an end-of-year decline, according to WWD Media, which drew numbers from the Audit Bureau of Circulations.

WWD reports Glamour has suffered 20 percent sales drops in both October and November, dipping to 2,775 downloads last month from more than 4,300 in September, while Wired slipped to 23,000 paid downloads in November after averaging 31,000 sales from July through September. GQ, Vanity Fair and Men’s Health are among the other publications to have reported drops.

If you own an iPad, which magazines do you buy?

Magazine sales on Apple’s iPad plummet [The Los Angeles Times]

Memo Pad: iPad Magazine Sales Drop [WWD Media]


Edit Your Comment

  1. tinmanx says:

    I don’t normally buy any magazines, but if I had to I would prefer the dead tree version. I like the act of browsing with a paper magazine better than on an iPad. Newspapers on the other hand, I prefer on the iPad, I hate the giant pages and the ink on my fingers.

  2. Hi_Hello says:

    I used to subscribe to a gamer magazine. It would come with a demo cd. Toward the end, most of the stuff on the cd was unplayable demo… so I ended my service.

    But today, why would you need a magazine? Most of the pages are ads, and I can get the same content online. My brother has a magazine in the bathroom, which is nice. If he has an Ipad…would he keep it in the bathroom 0-o.

    You know what they need to do… sell magazine that has a comic book issue in them. I would subscribe to a magazine if it comes with a comic section and something else I”m interested in.

    Oh I get AAA magazines, for free. It has some nice thing to read about when I don’t feel like reading stuff on the screen.

  3. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    I don’t have an iPad, but I have a Nook Color and I haven’t put any magazines on it mostly because I don’t subscribe to a lot of magazines and kind of prefer to kick it old school a few times a month. I haven’t flipped pages in a physical book for about a month and a half now, and I don’t miss it. I don’t like the paper cuts, but I do like looking at the design, which isn’t nearly as easy on a screen smaller than the physical magazine.

  4. FuzzyWillow says:

    Magazines are really nothing more than vehicles for companies to sell product. They are full of advertising for products that the articles themselves pimp.

    I got fed up when my favorite (electronics/photography/automobile) magazine had articles extolling the absolute need to purchase the latest product released by their advertisers. The whole mag industry is a scam.

    Now with the web – you can eliminate the middleman and just read blogs by fan-boys extolling the latest product released by their advertisers. No need to “Subscribe” to such a “service.”

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      Magazines have way too many ads in them, I agree, but Wired still has a ton of original content and that’s why I’m a subscriber. And I usually read the website on a daily basis, and while the main stories from the magazine are posted online a few days after the magazine gets to my mailbox, it’s the little features that don’t get posted online (and remain in the dead tree version) that are my favorite parts of the magazine anyway.

      • ARP says:

        Wired’s circulation dropped a ton after the first release, but they still appear to be one of the few “sucess” stories.

        I think there are certain magazines that are better suited for e-reader (as a generic term). I haven’t actuall looked a e-magazine yet on an iPad, so keep me honest.

        But, I think if they’d do better if they did more than just put the magazine in an e-format. Have interactive content (slide shows, quizzes, polls, surveys, etc.). In fact, you can probably sell some of the analytics for some extra cash. The NYT National Debt reducer exercize would be perfect for an e-magazine

        • pecan 3.14159265 says:

          Nat Geo is such a visual magazine. It could easily package the magazine with slideshows (it already does photo spreads) and video clips from its vast documentary archive.

    • MrEvil says:

      I stopped subbing to magazines the second I got an issue of my favorite unnamed Computer mag that had…I shit you not… 20 straight pages of fucking advertisements. At least Computer Power User is free to subscribe and makes all their money off of ad revenue.

      I think the magazine business needs to realize that they’re just not going to see the same profit margin they’re accustomed to. It’s either they need to go to an ad supported model like the web, or they need to dial back on the ads by a large amount and adjust the subscription rates. Consumer reports is worth subscribing to because there are no ads. With no ads comes a little more responsibility to the subscribers than to the advertisers. And not only does CR need the subscription money to cover the publishing costs of the magazine, they also need the money to purchase products that they test, I doubt they accept products from the manufacturer directly.

      Three options:

      100% ad supported
      subscription with no ads

  5. dolemite says:

    That’s because you can find subscription deals for $10-$20 for a year for a magazine that is usually $4-$5 per issue.

    You’d think since the content is paired down for the iPad, and there are no printing/shipping fees involved, the magazines would be cheaper, but instead they are more expensive.

    Kind of like how we still pay $12-$15 for a CD even when we download it on iTunes and there is no CD pressing, shipping, stocking fees.

    IMO, a year’s subscription on the iPad for just about anything should be $10, and all music should be about $6.99 per record.

    • Mr_Human says:

      Agreed. Why would I pay $4 an issue for the digital Wired, when I was just able to renew my print sub for $12 for the year? Unless I’m missing a digital subscription deal somewhere.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      I’m a Nat Geo subscriber and for some reason, Nat Geo hasn’t issued any kind of statement about whether print subscribers can switch to a digital subscription on the Nook Color. It’s $23.88 for a year of Nat Geo for the Nook Color, which is ridiculous. The regular rate for print is $15.

      I don’t see how magazines can go “woe is me, it’s so expensive to maintain printing magazines” when they make it so cost prohibitive to switch to digital formats.

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        I meant to add “for the same price” – if Nat Geo offered to let print subscribers switch to the digital Nook version for the same price they were already paying, and just get the rest of their subscription that way, I’d consider it.

      • frank64 says:

        I agree, and think the same with streaming and ebooks. Especially for the iPad, there are so many hands in the pie, and everyone wants a piece. That is the big problem. They could use it to drop the price in half and then maybe quadruple subscriptions, I think many more people would want to spend $4-$5 a year for a mag than $20. There SHOULD be less costs, and much more money to be made that way. Netflix kind of does it with streaming and even DVD rentals(compared to BB of $4 a rental). They are making billions.

    • ARP says:

      See my post above (sorry). If there is some value-add to the content (bonus articles, interactive tools, slideshows, polls, surveys, etc.) I can see them charging what they do (or even a bit more).

  6. says:

    Personally I love reading MacWorld and National Geographic on my iPad. Totally agree that prices for electronic versions need to come down or additional content needs to go up.

    There are a number of other magazines I subscribed to on my iPad that I will not be renewing but that has nothing to do with the iPad or electronic delivery.

  7. Rachacha says:

    I was a long time subscriber to PC Magazine before they went all digital and my paper subscription carried over to their digital format. I read the magazine on my computer for a while, but it was not a good experience as I like to read while sitting in my recliner in front of the TV as well as other places where laptops are not convenient. When I got an iPad, the experience was much better but again, it was not the best for reading in some locations (outdoors, or in other bright locations).

    When my subscription ran out, I tried to renew, but ran into problems with their online payment system, and ultimately gave up. The problem with monthly (or less frequent) magazines is that the information is typically old news by the time it appears in the mag, and the product reviews don’t often provide the level of detail that I am looking for.

  8. th3v6cann3val0s3 says:

    “Hahahahaa welcome to our world” – The Music industry.

    As soon as you were able to digitize media, your traditional business model is done. Couple that with the ability to score $10-20 subscriptions…why would I ever pay $4 for monthly interactive PDFs with outdated information?

  9. lettucefactory says:

    I subscribe to The Atlantic and The New Yorker, and will do so as long as they are still published. But each ask $5 per issue on the iPad, while my print subscription price is far cheaper. Plus, the dead tree style is much easier to share with my husband, since we only have one iPad.

  10. HogwartsProfessor says:

    I love paper magazines. They are a vice of mine and one thing I’m kind of hoardy with. I had a bunch of subscriptions at one time:
    Reader’s Digest
    House Beautiful
    Better Homes and Gardens
    Good Housekeeping
    Woman’s Day
    the skating magazine that came with my USFSA membership
    the ISI skating magazine
    Old House Journal
    Victorian Houses
    Dollhouse Miniatures (formerly Nutshell News)
    Writer’s Digest
    National Geographic

    I think that’s all of them. Wow, when I list them, that’s a lot! The only ones I get now are Cosmo, Glamour and Writer’s Digest. My dad bought me the Nat Geo one every year, but I got bored with it and asked him to stop. Some of the specialty mags I got for one year and then quit, or through Publisher’s Clearing House at an introductory rate and never renewed.

    I would much rather read them on paper. When they pile up after a few months, I go through them and rip out articles I want to keep. I have a file box just for those. It takes up way less space.

  11. meg99 says:

    I bought Martha Stewart living once on iPad. It was neat, but if I’m on my iPad a lot of similar content is already available while I’m browsing. It doesn’t make any sence to pay, even just 3 or 4 dollars for something that is static—unless it is a book.

  12. TooManyHobbies says:

    I used to have several shelves worth of magazines. I scanned the lot and they now take up about 4 cubic millimeters of hard drive space. I do go to old magazines for reference, but I don’t need the paper for that. In fact the digital copy works better for that.

    The last glossy mag I subscribed to was Sky & Telescope. I found I wasn’t using it much anymore, all the content I want is more up to date online. I do still get Amateur Astronomy in PDF form, which is a fairly small run magazine that in its paper form is printed in black and white. So I’m not actually getting any paper delivered to my house anymore.

    I’ve also given away pretty much every book I owned. What I have left fits on a single shelf; a couple of textbooks, the service manuals for my two cars, 4 or 5 how-to books. I have thousands of books on my hard drive though, and a Sony reader.

  13. AngryK9 says:

    I have a subscription to PC World, but that’s it. I had a subscription to PC Magazine, but in the middle of my subscription they decided to go to a digital-only format. I canceled the subscription when they did so. The problem with these magazines today (and why I do not plan to re-up my PC World subscription) is that they have become less about actual useful content and more about cramming as many advertisements into the mag as possible. Pretty much the same thing on their websites as well. I don’t know if they do it on things like iPads or not but I personally am tired of paying increasing prices for page after page of advertisements.

  14. Geosama says:

    Maybe I’m just crazy but I like the smell of traditional magazines. Kinda like the new car smell.

  15. savashley says:

    I get two magazines on my Nook Color, and their subscription prices are on par with the deals you can get on the paper versions. I’m not sure if the iPad offers a subscription option or not, but I never was interested in an iPad anyway. I love my Nook :)

  16. Halliday says:

    I don’t have a iPad, Nook or Kindle, but there is no way I would pay more for the digital version of a magazine I can get cheaper in print.

  17. twritersf says:

    The problems are twofold: having a separate app for each magazine, as many magazines have tried to do, is just unwieldy, and the prices are just too high.

    I’d be interested is seeing figures that compare the circulation figures of magazines’ standalone apps vs. app sold via consolidated apps, such as Zinio or Kindle. It turns out that the Zinio user experience isn’t all that bad. But some standalone apps are just designed so horribly. And then there’s the issue of having a different app fo every magazine, causing clutter in the OS and a different way to page through content for each one.

    But the biggest issue is cost. You can find huge, huge discounts for many, many magazines to get physically delivered to you if you look. In come cases, you can get a full year’s subscription for well under $10 per year. Just try to get a discount on e-versions though. In many cases, it’s impossible. In others, the discounts are minimal.

    The model for many is to charge the full cover price issue-by-issue. For others, they charge the “standard” subscription price when it can be had for far less elsewhere. In either case, the cost for publishers is far smaller for those e-versions–no cost for printing, materials, distribution, postage, etc.–and yet those savings are not passed on to consumers. Yes, some distributors to take a cut, but for e-versions, magazine publishers retain a much larger percent of the cover or subscription price.

    Like daily newspapers who have tripled (or more) the single-issue prices of their publications, then lament their loss of circulation, magazine publishers just got get it when it comes to pricing. Until they do, their sales will sag.

  18. Warble says:

    I always thought it was kind of insane that anyone really expected iPad magazine subscriptions to be more than a novelty, given that they still cost more once you bought what was basically a new computer. As if the novelty of reading on a tablet was so incredible that a new business model would be born and would last forever. It says something about the desperation of the industry that they believed that this might work. But even though I feel for the magazines, I’m glad that the laws of gravity still apply.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      For anyone who works or lives overseas, online magazine subscriptions could be awesome. If all you need is an internet connection and an iPad, imagine having all of your favorite magazines delivered wirelessly. Then you don’t have to pay for international shipping, if the magazine even offered it in the first place.

  19. oldtaku says:

    I love magazines on the iPad. New Scientist, the Economist, National Geographic… if course I do this through Zinio. That centralizes everything (no app per magazine, or even worse per issue), the prices are comparable (or cheaper) to the print deals you can get, no physical media to throw out, and of course it’s always there to read. Apparently Kindle for iPad will be doing magazine subs at some point, so I’ll look at that.

    But those One Issue for $5 things? Please. I got the first Wired ep, just because, but once was enough. There was some nice extra digital content, but the layout was inferior to just paging through it, and the different content for landscape and portrait was just ridiculous.

  20. maines19 says:

    I would love to subscribe to more magazines on my iPad. However, most are priced at the single-issue cover price on the iPad (Wired is one of these), but a subscription to the dead-tree version is signficantly cheaper. Match the prices and I’m right there.

  21. Hotscot says:

    For me I’m waiting until I can obtain all my comics in e-form and for them to be $1.00 a pop.

  22. sock says:

    I get a few digital magazines through Zinio. The price was good and I don’t have to stay on top of getting rid of old paper copies (I dislike clutter). I got a 3-month free subscription to PC Magazine (digital) and don’t care for it particularly. I subscribe to paper PC World, and still find some stuff of value. But, I am usually able to read it in one sitting before I pass it on to someone else.

  23. ballookey says:

    I’ve tried several magazines on the iPad, but all of them have serious flaws. The Wired one, like many, is just images of the pages. The text isn’t selectable, and the layout of their print edition doesn’t necessarily translate well to a digital edition.

    Another problem is that (in the ones I’ve sampled) you can’t save the images to keep on the ipad, or to be transfered to your computer. I’ve bought dead tree magazines for decades so I could save some of the photos, but can’t with the digital versions.

    Last and worst: They’re all prohibitively more expensive per issue on the iPad even though it’s just a digital file. I could tolerate the other two items above if the per issue price were comparable to news stand or subscription price, but I don’t see why I should pay a super premium price for something so hobbled. I’m not saying they should be free, but a digital file full of ads, with no copy/paste, no saving/archiving of images? Should be like, a dollar.

  24. josh42042 says:

    I think they already have magazines online and on tablets. they’re called websites.

  25. ShariC says:

    I don’t have an iPad, but I did subscribe to a few digital magazines via Zinio for awhile. I only did this because I live in Japan and the price is hyper-inflated for English language magazines that are sold here. However, I only subscribed to magazines which were cheap. Some of the ones I really wanted (like computer magazines) were insanely priced for digital editions (especially things like MacWorld). If magazine sellers want to increase digital sales, then they need to make digital subscriptions much cheaper than printed versions.

    From the viewpoint of the buyer, they are sacrificing something in accepting a digital copy over a printed one (convenience, ability to permanently archive without risk of loss, or ease of sharing the copy with others). I realize that, from the viewpoint of the magazine, they pay the same for content creation, but they have to realize how the reader sees it and price accordingly. There’s less value attached to digital copies even when the content is exactly the same.

  26. FrugalFreak says:

    Stop being ad rags and maybe people will see value in buying subscriptions.