When the Apple iPad first arrived on the scene earlier this year, some people said that it was not in direct competition with e-readers like the Amazon Kindle. In some regards, that is true, since the iPad costs so much more and can do so much more, but it’s also true that many people who choose to buy an iPad opt out of buying an e-ink based e-reader as a result.
One area where the iPad seems to have regular e-readers beat is in regards to magazines. This is partly because of the iOS touchscreen interface, but probably more likely because of the brilliant colors that the iPad can produce. You can’t imagine flipping through an issue of Cosmo in black-and-white, right? Well, early on, it seemed to be working. Wired’s debut iPad mag sold more than 100,000 issues back in June.
It looked like the iPad could be the magazine reader of the future, but then the bottom quickly fell out. According to more recent reports, Wired’s iPad mag only sold about 31,000 copies between July and September. That fell even further to 22,000 and 23,000 for October and November respectively. That’s less than a quarter of the launch number.
This phenomenon isn’t only being observed with Wired either. Vanity Fair has seen sales drop from the 10,500 in August, September, and October to just 8,700 copies of its November issue. Glamour has seen a drop of 20%, GQ has lost buyers, and so has Men’s Health, the last of which has experienced a 28% drop. Fewer and fewer people are buying digital magazines for the iPad.
Now, there could a bunch of different reasons why we’re seeing this “across the board” decline in iPad magazine sales. Maybe people are finding that staring at the iPad’s screen for so long can get very tiresome and they’ve fallen back to the dead tree editions of their favorite mags. Maybe people had to cut back on their magazine spending so they could afford holiday gifts. Maybe the “pay for an issue” business model no longer works. Or maybe we were all expecting the magazine to be like that amazing demo we were tantalized with back in February.
Or maybe the iPad just isn’t the magazine e-reader of the future that it was first thought to be.
The print magazine, just like the physical book, will still be around for several years to come, but I think that we’re in the middle of a shift. More books are being read on increasingly inexpensive e-readers like the Kobo and Kindle, but I think the “paid” magazine model might not work anymore in the face of countless free websites and blogs (like Mobile Magazine) that provide up-to-the-minute information that is arguably just as good as the big print mags.
What do you think? Do you still buy print magazines? Do you buy magazines on your iPad? Why and why not? Hit the poll below.