Last May, Condé Nast began offering subscriptions through Apple’s App Store. While some may have questioned this move, including digital-resistant competitor Werner Media, news that they have grown by nearly a quarter million customers suggests it was no mistake.
These customers arrived in a variety of ways. With over 136,000 print subscribers choosing to extend their purchases to include the digital edition that leaves around 106,000 subscribers that arrived as digital-only sales.
Digital delivery of material has yet to trump the traditional print model, but it is becoming increasingly apparent that this is a method that should not be ignored. Looking at these types of subscriptions can be seen as an additional revenue stream and an opportunity to entice readers that may otherwise not be interested.
Adding to the complexity of the decision on whether to go digital, publishers have to consider that with current App Store regulations, Apple will be collecting 30% of all sales and subscription revenue. Unfortunately, with their current market dominance, avoiding Apple devices and the rules that follow really isn’t an option.
Subscriptions are currently available in the App Store for 8 of Condé Nast’s most successful publications: Allure, Glamour, Golf Digest, GQ, Self, The New Yorker, Wired and Vanity Fair.
From that list, The New Yorker has emerged as the most successful iPad magazine, boasting 20,000 iPad subscribers. While this doesn’t come close to touching the 1 million print subscribers, it represents a strong proof of concept and provides a good foundation to grow from.
Other publishers are starting to test the digital waters as well. Earlier this year, Time, Inc. began offering digital versions of Fortune, Sports Illustrated, and Time free to print subscribers. In addition, Hearst offers digital subscriptions for Esquire, Popular Mechanics, and O, The Oprah Magazine.
In time, these digital subscriptions will be a matter of course, particularly as more homes and individuals acquire tablets and demand this type of content. When that happens, these publishers will be seen as the pioneers and trusted for their experience.