Is anyone surprised by the drop in magazine app sales?

I'm not.

Everyone's writing about an article on WWD Media blog about the declining sales of iPad magazine apps. I'm not sure why this is news; we've already seen this happen.

Many magazines that are available on the iPad, such as Esquire, People and The New Yorker, have not posted their digital single-issue sales to the ABC. But Vanity Fair sold 8,700 digital editions of its November issue, down from its average of about 10,500 for the August, September and October issues. Glamour sold 4,301 digital editions in September, but sales dropped 20 percent in October and then another 20 percent, to 2,775, in November. GQ’s November edition sold 11,000 times, which was its worst performance since April (when the iPad was released) and represents a slight decline from its average digital sales of 13,000 between May and October.

To be honest, the only part that surprises me is that the sales didn't drop off as fast as I expected. I was expecting Wired to crash, not plateau.

You might recall that I posted a couple months ago that I thought magazine apps weren't a good value. TBH, I was late to the game. Almost everyone I'd listen to on this topic had already said the same. I can also recall that we saw much this same story back in the spring with GQ magazine. That magazine debuted on the iPhone with excellent sales that dropped off the next month. Now most of the other magazines are following the same pattern.

7 thoughts on “Is anyone surprised by the drop in magazine app sales?

  1. Most of the implementations just … suck. There’s little or no value added to the content. The technology is not leveraged to produce a truly enhanced publication. This is the trend. Half-assed efforts result in half-assed results and lousy consumer response.

  2. Also, many of the magazines in question make all or most of their content available for free on the web. So, in the absence of significant enhancements to the iPad editions, why on earth would someone pay for content one can easily (and legally) access without charge?

  3. I haven’t seen an iPad magazine ad in person. I’ve seen pictures of Martha Stewart’s and… No thanks.

    I take Martha Stewart’s Living (don’t faint) in paper (don’t die) for a REASON, which is being able to tear out the pages I want and file/organize them the way I need/use them and throw the rest of the magazine away. I want to keep what’s valuable to me, and keep it as accessible as possible when doing projects.

  4. I have two answers that don’t fit well together.

    1. It’s the content, not the ezine buyers. Esquire is great on an iPad, and great on paper. A few moving images may not distinguish them apart enough. McLuhan noted how a new medium swallows previous media until, maybe eventually something distinctive takes over. Radio emerged and took vaudeville for its content; television followed and used radio formats and movies. Because we use the same word (with the addition of an “e”) we may think an ebook and an ezine are the same as if they didn’t have the “e.” They’re not. But what they are, we’re not yet sure. Neither is the public, so this leads to…

    2. It’s the ezine buyers, not the content. The greatness of a new thing/art/work is never measurable by the flocking behavior of the fickle public. What do they know, really? It’s the artists/creators/producers who lead them, slowly and frustratingly.

    Nietzsche wrote–“To experience a things as beautiful means: to experience it necessarily wrongly.”

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