Many magazines that are available on the iPad, such as Esquire, People and The New Yorker, have not posted their digital single-issue sales to the ABC. But Vanity Fair sold 8,700 digital editions of its November issue, down from its average of about 10,500 for the August, September and October issues. Glamour sold 4,301 digital editions in September, but sales dropped 20 percent in October and then another 20 percent, to 2,775, in November. GQ’s November edition sold 11,000 times, which was its worst performance since April (when the iPad was released) and represents a slight decline from its average digital sales of 13,000 between May and October.
After Wired’s enormous debut month, the magazine averaged 31,000 digital sales between July and September, but even that fell in October and November, with sales coming in at 22,000 and 23,000, respectively. (For comparison, the magazine sold 130,000 total print editions for October and November.)
It costs $40/year for a New Yorker subscription (or $4/copy) on an iPad, comparable to a paper subscription. The New Yorker, Vanity Fair and other Conde Nast publication pages are full of complaints from subscribers about the quality and cost of the iPad versions of those magazines. After the novelty wears off, it makes no sense to pay four bucks for magazines that publish a good deal of their content on the Internet for free.
The magazine publishers’ fantasy that iPad users would be trapped in the digital equivalent of an airplane cabin, with the app store functioning like SkyMall, is the latest incarnation of a zombie dream that just won’t die. It’s been around since the dawn of dial-up services (remember Compuserve?) and it fails every single time.