October 26, 2011

Condé Nast Digital Subs Soar Via iPad


“Condé Nast suggested on Tuesday that tablet magazines might have turned a corner with the launch of iOS 5. Since the iPad received access to Newsstand, subscriptions across titles like GQ and The New Yorker climbed 268 percent. Single issues reaped their own rewards and spiked 142 percent, the publisher said.”

The reason: concentrating periodicals in one application on the main screen of iOS 5. It’s akin to posting the most popular songs on iTunes’ front page, encouraging the casual browser to try one or more offerings.

The test will play out over the coming months, after the Newsstand app’s novelty has worn off. Subscription acceleration should taper. Will readers continue to browse Newsstand, selecting more content?

Come this time next year it’ll be interesting to see if today’s one-year subscriptions are renewed. The question for subscribers will be whether they prefer the digital version to a paper magazine.

I’ve enjoyed reading Wired on my iPad for the past few months, but there is a palpable difference between that and leafing through a paper copy. As much as I enjoy the benefits of my electronic copy, I feel I’m losing something of almost equal value. The content is the same. Accessing it through iPad’s touch interface is convenient and keeps my various reading interests in one place. The feel of a paper magazine, though, provides a tactile feedback not replicated by a tablet. Perhaps akin to the mechanical addiction that accompanies cigarette use, holding paper reading material in your hands has its own value, lost in the electronic version.