August 3, 2011
While most e-publishers have so far failed to find success with their iPad e-magazines, Conde Nast’s The New Yorker seems to be the exception. In fact, the publication is thriving and making money with its iPad app, according to InvestorPlace. Once you take away the cool factor (videos, social networking integration, the occasional moveable graphic), most e-magazines are just like those found at the neighborhood newsstand. Unfortunately many are still more expensive than their print counterparts. Because of this, most e-magazines have been a tough sale, nearly 16 months after the iPad’s debut. However, The New Yorker is actually doing quite well. It currently has a readership of 100,000 on the iPad. And 20 percent of those are paying $60 per year for a subscription. Their secret? According to Deputy editor Pamela Maffei McCarthy, less is more.
With The New Yorker still growing, however, it looks like it has stumbled on a formula for success. What’s the key? Keeping it simple, apparently. Deputy editor Pamela Maffei McCarthy said the magazine’s goal was to create an app version “all about reading,” and so The New Yorker edition is predominantly text, foregoing the rich animation and sound that typifies most digital editions of magazines.In other words, readers are flocking to The New Yorker iPad app because it relies on text and not “the rich animation and sound that typifies most digital editions of magazines.” Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear that The New Yorker’s model could benefit other publishers.
The New Yorker itself is a text-heavy magazine, so a digital edition that emphasizes clean readability won’t help Time Warner (NYSE:TWX) or the Meredith Corporation (NYSE:MDP). People certainly do read the articles in those publishers’ magazines, such as Sports Illustrated and Better Homes and Gardens, but those also are visually intensive publications. No one is buying SI’s swimsuit issue to read about the on-location shoot, after all.We’re not sure we agree with this analysis, at least not completely. For one, 100,000 users seems pretty small, given there are millions of iPad owners. Besides, what’s 20,000 yearly subscribers? Again, not that many users, even if that number compares quite nicely with those of other e-magazines. We’re convinced the most significant reason e-magazines have found little success until now is because of Apple’s first policy of not allowing subscriptions. With that policy now gone, we expect to see many e-magazines beginning to add readers in the months ahead. It will also help that many publishers are now allowing print subscribers to access digital content as part of their yearly subscription. On the “less is more” approach being used by The New Yorker, we agree that it probably wouldn’t translate well with other publications. Finally, we still like what The Atlantic with its iPad app. It combines free and paid content, something that most e-magazine publishers have so far failed to do. Still, who knows? The iPad is still relatively new and as it adds more customers, tastes will continue to evolve. Time will tell. Both The New Yorker and The Atlantic apps are available now in the App Store.
The New Yorker Magazine
Condé Nast Digital
The Atlantic Magazine: Digital Edition