Thursday, December 30, 2010

How to rescue magazine sales on iPad

It is no surprise that magazine sales on the iPad have fallen since the summer, as the novelty of pawing through a publication on the new toy wore off.

In the most extreme case of fatigue, Wired sold 100,000 copies of the first issue it put on the iPad in June but only about 22,000 in November, according to statistics culled from the Audit Bureau of Circulations and first reported at Womens Wear Daily. The chart below is from Silicon Alley Insider.

A sale of 22k issues isn’t all that bad, since it represents $87,780 in almost pure profit at $3.99 a copy, but publishers seeking to build iPad volume would do well to read the disappointing reviews of the Wired app on the iTunes page where the magazine is sold.

Fully 61% of those who bought the most recent edition of the Wired iPad app gave it the lowest possible score at iTunes. The complaints coalesce around four major themes, each of which it is in the power of Wired and other publishers to address:

:: Functionality. The app is little more than a digital dupe of the print product, with scant interactivity to leverage the power of this sophisticated digital platform. “That’s not Wired,” said an iTunes customer identified as byron246. “It’s tired.”

:: Technical glitches. Several reviewers complained of balky downloads, improper formatting and other issues that made it difficult and time-consuming to acquire and read the magazine. “Some issues have broken texts, so I tried ‘restore all,’” said someone called Bring Back My Money, who complained that only one of five issues reappeared after the attempted restore. “Everyone should know that ‘restore’ means ‘delete and throw away your money.’”

:: Price. The app is just too expensive for what it delivers. “I just paid $20 for two full years of the paper version,” said one customer identified as Christopher Fluke. “$3.99 per issue for some fancy reformat? I don’t think so.”

:: No subscription. Not only is the magazine costly to buy on a per-copy basis, but you have to remember to download it every month and fuss with the limitations, glitches and high price cited above. In other words, the hassle factor is too high. “Get this down to $20 per year,” said someone called Skrapmot, “and we’re talking.”

6 Comments:

Blogger Mike said...

Alan, it seems like this column ended in the middle.

Substitute, in place of "Wired," the name of any of the dailies now publishing on this platform. The overall criticisms still hold, if not the specific details such as price.

Is there a newspaper out there using the platform to its specific advantages (and I'm not talking about the ability to swipe between pages, or pinching to zoom)? Is there any feature set or marketing model derived from real audience research, rather than editorial or technical gut check? Anything at all that could be described as breakthrough or revolutionary?

tap tap tap

Hello? Is this thing on?

11:41 AM  
Blogger Marc said...

The solution is very simple- a subscription should be the same or a little less then the regular subscription since logic as a user says no paper no delivery it should be cheaper. I happily gave up my print subscription to the Economist in return for a digital one on the Ipad. And will happily do it for any of my print magazines at a comparable price

8:10 PM  
Blogger donn said...

See NewsOK.com ipad APP.
They control subscriptions.
The digital versions will be more expensive unless advertisers embrace the platform and pay the same rates or more. Most magazines and newspapers subsidize the subscription cost through advertising. Digital production may be cheaper, but quality content is expensive. And high-quality interactive content is even more expensive to produce.

5:58 AM  
Blogger John C Abell said...

My money is on subscriptions. When Apple and publishers come to terms on user data -- and assuming the arc for tablets stays strong -- that will be the chicken and/or egg.

All other complaints -- alleged lack of additional content or features, download times, etc. -- instantly vanish if the price is right.

7:04 AM  
OpenID saoir said...

I believe that publishers must put themselves in the shoes of their customers. What does an iPad customer want ?
He wants something either to save him money over buying the paper version - or something that he cannot get in the paper version.
Publishers have been trying to screw their customers by charging the same price or more than as paper versions, knowing full well that this is many times more than they earn from the paper version after distribution costs and retail margins. This leaves a sick taste in anyone's mouth.

9:04 AM  
Blogger stephen said...

Publisher are forever going round in decreasing circles.As virtually all the costs of producing their mags are in the selling, printing and distribution of their content and with delivering the very same content to an IPAD in terms of costs are probably between 1% to 5% of the paper equivalent what makes them think they can grow their audience by charging the print equivalent.What you usually find is the print equivalent price is solely there to in theory protect the print version which as they are finding out is madness.

Its especially strange given that usually most of the cover price was to pay the retailer and distribution costs. Advertisers chase audience , its not about giving away content for free, its about creating the right environment where people will gather,interact,spend time and return allowing the publisher to carefully manage this asset to generate the cash to create value.

3:47 AM  

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