For over a year now many media analysts have been hailing the iPad as the ultimate tree saver; the device that would usher in a new era of digital publishing and finally banish those glossy magazines from newsstands across the country.
Maybe it isn’t going to happen as fast as projected.
When iPadNewsDaily reported WIRED magazine released its second issue designed especially for the iPad with new features and a 20 percent price cut in June, sales topped 96,000 downloads that month, outselling the magazine’s print edition by almost 16,000 copies.
However, it seems, those numbers now are stuck in reverse, heading much faster toward zero than 100,000 per month.
According to a report in Women’s Wear Daily — based on numbers provided by the ABC — WIRED hasn’t fared nearly as well on the iPad front since its stunning debut. The magazine lost an average of 70,000 digital sales on its initial monthly number, averaging 31,000 between July and September. Those numbers slipped even further in October and November, with sales plummeting to 22,000 and 23,000, respectively. According to the ABC, the magazine sold 130,000 total print editions for October and November.
And it’s not just WIRED. Other notable magazines are struggling with iPad subscriptions after initial successes. Vanity Fair sold only 8,700 digital editions of its November issue, compared with an average of 10,500 for August, September and October. During the same period Glamour sold 4,301 digital editions, but sales dropped 20 percent in October and another 20 percent, to 2,775, in November.
Between May and October, according to the ABC, GQ averaged digital sales of 13,000. That number has dipped to 11,000 in each subsequent month. And Men’s Health has also taken a hit, with sales falling to 2,000 downloads per month in September and October. Previous months averaged 2,800 since its launch in the spring.
Of course, these numbers aren’t telling the full story. Many magazines available on the iPad — Esquire, People , The New Yorker , among others — have not posted their digital single-issue sales to the ABC, while other publications have not figured out the right formula for transferring their magazine to the iOS format. Getting it right could take some time.
These factors, however, haven’t slowed publications from developing iPad additions as new ventures pop up almost daily. And with an expected surge in devices sold over the holidays, the trend could reverse itself before more newsstands start sprouting up on street corners.