While e-book sales are soaring, e-magazine sales are in the doldrums. Wired magazine, which sold nearly 100,000 copies with its initial June release, has dropped to less than a quarter of that mark in the fall (22,000 in October and 23,000 in November. Vanity Fair, Glamour and GQ have also seen decreases in electronic circulation.
Numerous factors have contributed to the decline of magazine downloads. First, magazine apps do not always offer the best reading experience. They are sometimes buggy and difficult to navigate. Ads that are barely subconsciously registered in print are more intrusive in electronic form. And graphic intensive downloads take a big chunk of memory. Compounding the difficulties are the iPad’s own often-reported wifi connectivity issues.
Secondly, the issues tend to be relatively expensive. Many magazines do not offer any discount for electronic versions of their magazines, which seems counter-intuitive given the lack of printing and shipping costs. Some titles offer free digital subscriptions in conjunction with a print subscription, while others still expect their loyal readers to shell out full print price for a digital issue, a price that can often equal up to six months of the printed subscription cost. For example, a single digital issue of Runner’s World costs $4.99. A yearly subscription delivered to your door is $12, or $1 per issue. Runner’s World does offer a free digital subscription with a print subscription, but it cannot be utilized through their own app. Free digital copies are accessed through Coverleaf.
Lastly, much of the content can be accessed for free on the magazines’ own websites, or even through a simple hack. Exclusive additional content, or the same content in a compelling interactive format, will have to be implemented before the magazine industry can enjoy the success of other e-publications.
Look here for our review of two magazine readers, Coverleaf and Zinio, one an app and the other web-based.