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Savior Crucified: iPad Magazine Sales Slump

  • WWD et al, Thursday, December 30, 2010 3:13 PM
"Remember when Wired's debut issue for the iPad sold more than 100,000 times in June?," asks WWD. (Ahh those were those heady times, those early days of April and May when hope was in the air and the media decreed the iPad the savior of print.) Well, forget it. "It looks like it will be a while before that type of performance is seen again," concludes WWD.

Sales have lumped rapidly, for those titles that made sales numbers available to the ABC (which isn't many). Wired, one of the biggest early iPad success stories has leveled off at about 20,000 digital sales a month (compared with 130,000 for the print edition).

GQ and Vanity Fair would kill for those digital sales numbers though: they've hit bottom at about 10,000. And Glamour's iPad circ. resembles that of a modestly popular personal blog, falling to under 3,000 sales a month.

Reationary as ever, (and fairly representative of the black-cloud media mentality) Gizmodo roughly declares that magazines are "doomed."

Alex Wilhelm at The Next Web says the media needs to take a breath and step back from it's hyperbolic reporting of the numbers though. "Today's data is actually meaningless in the long haul," says. The hype that drove early sales is gone, and that is disappointing, he reasons, but the industry should (and must) do things to ease the long-term transition.

So what needs to happen? The price of the digital editions need to come down, Wilhelm says. And then Apple's fabled iNewstand feature needs to get up to speed and offer people easier access and more browsing of titles to drive sales. Most important, innovation needs to return. Early iPad editions offered a novel experience, but those experiences haven't continued to utilize the device.

Mashable, too, posits that the numbers aren't as bad as all that, and offers similar advice about perking them back up, but adds the wrinkle that (with the exception of Wired) the digital sales roughly correlate to drops in print sales, saying "When you compare digital sales to print newsstand sales, however, it becomes clear that digital sales numbers aren't nearly as poor as they first appear."

But then again pointing out, "Hey out print sales dropped just as much as our digital sales" is one of those good news/bad news sort of things.

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