When Apple’s iPad was first introduced earlier this year, magazine publishers saw a great opportunity to combat declining subscriptions with a new distribution channel. The iOS-powered iPad would also allow publishers to get creative and introduce enhanced, interactive features that could not be achieved with traditional print. According to numbers available from the Audit Bureau of Circulations, however, magazine publishers’ hopes of having found a savior in the iPad are all but dashed. Every big name magazine title available on the iPad has seen its purchase rate decline since introduction, and most didn’t find much success to begin with.
Glamour, for example, sold only 4,301 copies in its debut month. Sales then dropped 20% in October and another 20% in November, landing at 2,775. GQ sold 11,000 copies in November, down from an average of 13,000 per month between May and October. Sales of Vanity Fair slid to 8,700 copies in November from an average of 10,500 from August through October. Men’s Health, which averaged sales of just 2,800 copies over the spring, sold 2,000 copies each month in September and October. Wired, which had a monster month when it debuted in June with over 100,000 downloads, dropped to an average of 31,000 between July and September and an average of 21,500 between October and November.
Many share the opinion that magazine publishers have failed to take full advantage of the iOS platform thus far, having simply transfered print versions of their magazines to the iPad with a minimal amount of bells and whistles. The tools to create content that is original, interactive and truly unique are clearly available, and the iPad may be the ideal vehicle with which to deliver this great new content — but the vision still appears to be seriously lacking.