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Why tablet magazines are a failure

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“We’re starting a new magazine,” the entrepreneur told me. “We have a potent niche to cover, and advertisers are dying for us to deliver interactive ads.”

Another woman I met with wanted to launch a tablet magazine about renewable energy. “It’s global and I have all the right connections to get it out there,” she said. “And I’ve found an out-of-the-box software solution to power it.”

Both projects impressed me. From an editorial point of view, they both nailed it. The entrepreneurs’ energy was great. A few years ago I would have been all in with them.

Today, though, my mind has changed. I fear the app-based tablet approach to magazines leads straight to oblivion, at least for individual magazine titles.

Not that tablets aren’t suited for reading. I discover most of the articles I read every day through my favorite iPad apps: Zite, Flipboard, Facebook (s FB) and Twitter. These apps don’t produce any content themselves. They’re merely curating what’s already out there. My dedicated magazine apps, on the other hand, have been lost among the many other apps on my iPad (s AAPL). I never read them, even those I pay monthly subscription fees for. Here’s why.

Eight apps a day

Last year, Nielsen estimated the average mobile user has 41 apps on his or her smartphone. In April, a Flurry study showed the average smartphone user opens only eight apps a day, with the most popular being Facebook, YouTube and game apps. And according to a 2012 report from Localytics, 22 percent of all apps are only opened once.

Though these numbers are for mobile in general, not just tablets, the picture is clear: There’s not much room for magazine apps. Magazines need extremely dedicated readers to avoid being buried.

Invisible in the stream of information

To make things worse, magazine apps themselves are invisible in the large streams of information governing the web.

When a magazine is organized as an app rather than as a website, its articles can neither be indexed or searched on the web. And even if they could, clicking the link in Google at best takes readers to an app store, not to the article itself — cutting the magazine out of the greatest traffic driver in today’s world.

The pattern is the same on social media. When you can’t link directly to an article, the urge to tweet or tell your friends about it drastically shrinks. And curators like Flipboard and Zite can’t look into, link or grab content from within magazine apps.

Antiquated monoliths

When I nevertheless manage to find the time to open up an iPad magazine, I feel as if I’m holding an outdated media product in my hands. That’s ironic because these apps tend to be visually appealing, with interactive graphics, embedded videos and well-crafted navigation tools. But the gorgeous layout that works so well in print gets monolithic, almost scary, in its perfectionism on the iPad, and I find myself longing for the web. It’s messy but far more open, more accessible and more adaptable to me, my devices and needs.

Most magazine apps also fail in social. They struggle to be “liked,” to attract comments and get shared, because only readers inside the app can fully join in the conversation. The orderly, closed magazine experience runs counter to the great social networking pulse of the internet.

Magazine apps don’t sell

This year, tablets will probably outsell laptops. Apple alone sells 15 to 20 million iPads each quarter. But magazine app success stories are hard to find.

This is shown in the most recent statistics from the Alliance for Audited Media. In the table below I’ve reorganized the numbers, plotting total paid subscriptions for consumer magazines against “digital replica” paid subscriptions. On average, the 25 bestselling digital replica editions account for 12 percent of total subscriptions.

Total paid & verified circulation

Digital replica paid circulation

Digital replica as %age of total circulation

Game Informer Magazine




Reader’s Digest








Taste of Home








National Geographic




Poder Hispanic




OK! Weekly




Star Magazine




Men’s Health








ESPN the Magazine




Popular Science




O The Oprah Magazine








Us Weekly








Food Network Magazine








The New Yorker




Vanity Fair




Martha Stewart Living




WebMD Magazine








Working Mother




Paid total and digital replica subscriptions on bestselling U.S. consumer magazines ending 06/30/2013. Supplementary numbers. Source: Alliance for Audited Media.

Game Informer, which is owned by video game chain GameStop, seems to stand out with nearly 3 million digital subscriptions. But that’s because GameStop includes a digital subscription with purchase of its “premium” $14.99 loyalty cards, which also offer discounts on video games.

Other magazines are seeing less success in digital. Wired, for instance, launched its tablet edition in May 2010. The total number of paid subscriptions reached 850,000 by the end of 2012 — but only 102,000 of those are coming from digital. Both numbers fade against the number of monthly unique users to Wired’s website: nearly 20 million.

Evidence of success for standalone iPad magazines is even more difficult to find. The grandest attempt to make this new publishing platform work, News Corp’s “The Daily” iPad app, closed after two years of operation. The Daily only cost $0.99 a week, but with just a little over 100,000 subscribers at last count, it couldn’t break even.

For these reasons, entrepreneurs with ideas for tablet magazines haven’t convinced me to get on board. I believe the future for producing quality content for niches is both bright and promising. But it has to be presented openly, socially, in flow — not in closed tablet apps.

Jon Lund is COO and partner at knowledge-sharing startup memit and chairman of the Danish Online News Association. Follow him on Twitter @jonlund.

77 Responses to “Why tablet magazines are a failure”

  1. Craig McGill

    Jon, something I think many magazines have missed out on is the idea of making the magazine release being an event, something special.

    Yes, have the day to day material on the website but have the monthly/weekly release be something to look forward to, something of excitement.

  2. Brian Steffens

    Why not approach it from the other direction. Can some of these very bright code warriors find a way to make app content sharable and findable? Could they devise a way to share stories out of an app, to create a system where a Google/Bing result or a social media post could link to stories in an app? Most apps are much better user experiences than most websites, more engaging, even a better advertising vehicle. Why give up just because you have a challenge?

    • Jon Lund

      That would be cool, Brian. I actually thought so myself at a time: you can do workaround, post parallel versions of the iPad-article on the open web, which is searchable and social, and then link it to the app… This was actually one of the things I thought “The Daily” did right. But then again: By definition such workarounds will won’t ever get to work quite as well as the origianal, web-only article. So why use a lot of ressources only to get a second-best result? I’d say: save your clever code warriors for making great things on the web.

  3. Thomas J Duffy

    iPad versions of mags and blogs have too many finger swipes for information. That’s why I hate them, too much time spent for information, time is money. I like to the desktop versions everything is in list form. Scroll and click, what can be easier.

  4. TabletQuestioner

    A few comments/questions on the figures cited above:

    1. Do the “paid digital replica” subscription numbers also include the number of print subscribers that get the iPad version for free? If that is incorporated, how does it change the percentage?

    2. Of the digital subscribers (ideally “all” but also would like to see as tablet-only), what percent of issues do they actually download? As previous posters have noted, the shift to tablet has not made accessing a magazine easier; its’ just the opposite. Print subscriptions arrive in the mailbox and can be flipped through immediately. Tablet subscriptions require an often time-consuming download and the user has to actively “request” the magazine.

    3. The end result–and the business-model question publishers need to examine–is not necessarily the number of subscribers but the number of “engaged” subscribers.

    Any thoughts?

  5. There’s a lot of truth in the article.
    I subscribed to the uk GUARDIAN pad app.
    partly to support a crusading news organisation and partly to experience how I liked my news within an app.
    Drawbacks were My partner could not read it on her pad. We share our hard copy magazines and newspapers but there was no mechanism for us to do this with the app.
    More crucially I too found the Guardian’s web site way more detailed and searchable than the well designed app.
    Mike southon

  6. Check out AARP magazine. Done right as a stand alone app.
    Also, while there are some bad ones, for the most part, Zinio is OK except kind of awkward UX in parts.

  7. Full disclosure: I work for Mag+, a digital publishing platform, so I watch brands struggle with this every day. I agree with a lot of the points Lund and others have made here (more below) but I think Mcbeese nails one aspect:
    Declaring failures at this point is defeatist and uselessly negative. Yes, apps are a small part of most magazines’ overall revenue picture today, but what >should< those numbers be at this point? What percentage would make you say they are not failing? 20%? 50%? 99%?
    Tim Shea and others are dead right: Simply replicating what’s done in print—either from a content, design or price perspective—is probably a doomed model. But to declare total failure today is to assume that that’s all magazines can ever do within the app ecosystem. It took magazines 10 years to figure out that the web could be more than a place to dump print content. Now, the best sites (see NY Mag and Atlantic for profitable examples) have evolved into standalone representations of their brand delivering content and functionality that works in that medium. Smart content owners will do the same for the app ecosystem, because it’s a multi-billion dollar a year space that’s probably not going anywhere.
    And as Lund replied to kenica: Magazines DO need to make great Web experiences as well, but what does that have to do with apps failing? Why does it have to be either/or?
    Finally, I think Lund glosses over his best point: content-driven apps need to do a better job of breaking content out of that walled garden and letting it be a part of the fluid conversation that is social. Again, not unlike the early web, figuring that out will be a huge boon to figuring out how to make content work in the app space.

    • arachnads

      Good points. Your question about percentages that would indicate digital mag successes got me thinking about another issue:

      If one were (somehow) able to make a complete list of ALL print magazines ever published … 1- how would you determine which ones were/are “successful”? It clearly cannot only be the ones that are still around today, but…. And 2- only a tiny tiny percentage of that list would be titles that lasted for any major length of time; would that suggest that print magazines as a whole have been a failure, since the vast majority folded relatively quickly (the eventual succession of digital over print still doesn’t negate the fact print magazines have been a huge industry for decades)?

    • Jon Lund

      Hi Mike,

      When Wired Magazine, which I think is doing a great job in the tablet sphere, are unable to draw more than some 10 percent of their total subscriber-base to their digital edition, even though the Wired audience is the perhaps most tech-savvy of any magazine, and even though the Wired iPad magazine has now been around for more than three years, I think it points to a problem of the format itself. It tells me that the format doesn’t hold the potential to take over from print, when print dies. Especially so since they have almost 20 million users of their website. (But off course the format can and does take the place of a minor niche-format).

      If the magazines could break out of their walled gardens, they surely should do so. But that’s very hard if you start out from a native app. The break-out scenario is a non-native-app scenario, I think. Do you know of any apps which have managed to be perfectly searchable and social? Perfectly as in “as good as on web”? If so, please share!

  8. Whilst I have switched one of “my” computer magazine to a digital edition., because I just ended up with a pile of magazines. Invariably I didn’t finish reading half of them before the next one arrived to eventually end on the pile. The main problem that I found was, if there was article that I wished to keep, I couldn’t print it out or save it to be readily available.
    My pile is going down of course, or not increasing!

  9. Hi Jon, If you use Zinio, you can hyperlink some of the articles using your app, but the biggest issue, I think, is the fact, magazine apps issues cost as much if not more than the real paper copy. In my mind and in a lot of people minds, it seems like if you reduce the cost of printers and paper, things should be a bit cheaper, but that’s just haven’t happen. Maybe as a consumer I’m always looking for a deal, but I remember getting Zinio for the first time, and was a bit surprised that the prices were about the same or a bit more.

    • Jon Lund

      Hmm, Jeff, I don’t get you at all.. this article bares nothing but witness to the soundness of my arguments! What else to make of this quote from the article: ““We wanted to minimize friction and encourage readers to share our stories. We designed the site first for tablets, then for mobile and as a classic website, in that order,” insists Kevin Delaney. No apps in sight, but a site built in HTML5 and responsive design that adjusts to screen size.” That’s EXACTLY how i would advice any publisher to go about the publishing challenge posed by mobile and tablets!

  10. Mitch Speers

    Author makes excellent points:
    Most apps are downloaded, used once and ignored
    Digital replicas are pathetic exercises that don’t deserve to be called apps
    If a magazine app isn’t searchable and shareable on the web, it will fade into irrelevance
    The time needed to download a new issue is giant obstacle to continued use of an app

    Here are some other points:
    It takes far more work to produce a new issue of a magazine app than is supported by the revenue potential
    Magazine apps perpetuate the periodical mentality that doesn’t make any sense outside of a print manufacturing environment
    I’d guess that titles above that show a high percentage of app subscribers (like Game Informer) gave back most of their sub revenue in the form of promotional expenditures

  11. I had been a NY Magazine print subscriber for YEARS and got the ipad version specifically to read an end of the book feature whose type was small and the iPad made it easier to read. They updated it and not only was it not responsive (I enjoyed reading it horizontally & disliked reading it vertically) but the pages would no longer enlarge. So I canceled my subscription I was so irked. Also have the NY Times that I read on Sundays–and the iPad version is cheaper than buying it ($6.50 each where I live). They recently updated it and I like the update. Yes it’s responsive. Overall though, at this moment in time, I agree with Mr. Lund — it’s unlikely people will continue to pay for magazines on tablets that are more difficult to read and/or offer a worse experience.

  12. Mobile IS the future for existing printed media, the challenge is that most content owners are still too bound by the ways of print, both in mindset and means of production. To wholly succeed with the tablet you have start seeing the end result as an enriched and evolved product capable of existing on its own.

    This means simplifying the production process of digital multi channel media while being relentless at creating a user experience contextually tailored to the device.

    The tools you have at hand for telling a compelling story on a digital platform are so much greater than on paper. The reasoning behind this article is merly the fact that so few have done it right -rather than the medium being wrong. Stay tuned. A new generation of tablet magazines and newspapers are soon to emerge.

  13. Jeffrey Hagedon

    Check out the iOS app for iPad called Next Issue. It offers dozens of digitized periodicals for a fixed monthly fee rather than individual subscriptions. All the big players are available.

  14. Again a child is declared dead in the publishing industry that traditionally has always had a hard time to adapt to change. What again is NOT looked into is the usability and stability of digital magazine apps around as well as the pricing schemes. If you looked into that, you would clearly see WHY some magazine apps are a failure.

    I read various magazines on my iPad, both from the Apple Magazine Store as well as from Zinio. Most of the magazine apps for Apple’s Newsstand are – sorry to say this – rubbish. They are still full of bugs, they tend to crash, and the user experience of most magazine apps is a blank nightmare. It appears the publishing industry uses just 2 or 3 Apple Newsstand magazine publishing platforms if they haven’t build their own app. Those platforms are somewhat better than the own applications, but none really convince. I often see those apps freeze while turning pages, experience crashes while trying desperately to purchase magazines. And I am not alone with that. Zinio is slightly better on that but what sucks likewise is the magazine management on bought and downloaded issues. There is often no way of automatically deleting old copies, new issues are usually not downloaded automatically and keeping track of which magazine is on a subscription plan and which are individually bought also is really poor. Some magazines tend to be hilariously large, other magazine apps have constant hickups while actually downloading an issue.

    So these publishers declare the child as dead before they even started doing their homework, and that is to make the user experience on their apps suck less.

    Also I have experienced that most publishers simply do not care enough of their digital customers. It starts getting really wild when you try to complain because of a technical failure. Most magazine apps do not provide ANY method of feedback to the publisher (which I find highly disturbing) and if you get through to the publisher, responses to your issues take forever to be answered. If an answer arrives, these publishers usually blame the user and are not very helpful in getting the issue sorted.

    So the real blame should not be that digital magazines fail, it should be that the publishers themselves fail in delivering a digital product they themselves still don’t seem to understand or take enough interest in.

  15. Early days yet, far too early to write off the mag for the tab.

    No one wants to buy an app which is exactly the same as the print version. No point.
    Publishers have to offer more then a simple copy.

    The best ad generating tool for tablet mags has not taken off yet. A company in San Francisco can offer a publisher three video ads to insert on the opening page of a magazine for a tablet. The reader then gets to choose which ad they want to watch. They then get the magazine for free.

    Facebook, Twitter etc; of course they will happily post links. It does not cost them anything. What will they do if content creators go out of business?

    I never read any magazine on a web site. Too many ads on the page and the introduction of animated images flashing at you while you try to read is a big turn off.

    I read the New York Times through their app not print. Magazine? Vanity Fair.

    Early this year I created an Arts mag (tablet, iPhone only). Offered it for free for two weeks. Had 1,700 downloads. 80% of the downloads were in the USA. No advertising for the title other than posting links on Twitter. Received many complimentary comments about the design.

    Will release another version in December and offer it as a download for four weeks.
    May push it out to a quarterly in 2014.

    Contact me though my blog if you want a copy of the first edition.
    USP? No adverts, no reviews. No celebs.


  16. Early days yet, far too early to write off the mag for the tab.

    No one wants to buy an app which is exactly the same as the print version. No point.
    Publishers have to offer more then a simple copy.

    The best ad generating tool for tablet mags has not taken off yet. A company in San Francisco can offer a publisher three video ads to insert on the opening page of a magazine for a tablet. The reader then gets to choose which ad they want to watch. They then get the magazine for free.

    Facebook, Twitter etc; of course they will happily post links. It does not cost them anything. What will they do if content creators go out of business?

    I never read any magazine on a web site. Too many ads on the page and the introduction of animated images flashing at you while you try to read is a big turn off.

    I read the New York Times through their app not print. Magazine? Vanity Fair.

    Early this year I created an Arts mag (tablet, iPhone only). Offered it for free for two weeks. Had 1,700 downloads. 80% of the downloads were in the USA. No advertising for the title other than posting links on Twitter. Received many complimentary comments about the design.

    Will release another version in December and offer it as a download for four weeks.
    May push it out to a quarterly in 2014.

    Contact me though my blog if you want a copy of the first edition.
    USP? No adverts, no reviews. No celebs.


    ps – your animated ad for loggly on this page is playing havoc with my Safari browser.

  17. Chuckdaili

    I agree there is a huge problem with the experience the digital magazines offer. And it shows in the app reviews and feedbacks… publishers and designers are just doing their utmost to ignore!

    1. The weird navigation pattern a drunk designer at Adobe thought it would be cool to make a standard is a real deal-breaker. Readers are so lost that they need tutorials and arrows telling them where they should go.

    2. Interactivity is useless in most cases. But it takes a lot of megabytes, which makes each issue a 30 min download and something that is eating your tablet’s storage.

    3. Pixel perfection isn’t any good if it makes reading a pain. There are usually no tools that allow the reader to zoom, change line-height, etc. while this is now standard for digital books.

    4. There are indies who are making magazines their own way, take readers’ expectations into account and success. As a result, a lot of connoisseurs are considering Adobe DPS to be digital magazines evil since it can’t provide with a good user experience — which really is a hard truth by the way.

    As a matter of fact, I think tools to make those magazines are another reason why they are “failing”. The transition has been designed by people who know a lot about paper but very little about digital (let’s say their collective vision is made of digital myths and beliefs) and that is why magazine publishers are struggling now: nobody has been honest and told them digital demands specific models — which includes design, content, interactions, experiences, etc.

  18. Just to point out small typos. In the table, the numbers of total circulation of both ESPN and O The Oprah do not have the last digit. Both of them should be 7 digits, but they have only 6. Please fix them.

  19. Mcbeese

    The authors observations are interesting, but I believe the conclusions are flawed, or at least premature. Believe it or not, it is still early days for the tablet market. Forrester recently speculated that the tablet market is only 20% served, and the remaining 80% of the market – the mainstream – will choose their tablets and content differently. A good portion of this user base will be transitioning from print media without going through the step of web-based media, so there won’t be any perceived lack of flexibility.

    When it comes to attracting and holding our attention, magazines are typically one of a few or maybe a half-dozen options on the coffee table. Transitioning to become one option of dozens of options spread across numerous screens filled with distractions is an unsolved issue for media properties on tablets, and it’s part of the reason why digital doesn’t command the same ad rates. It’s hard to sell a front page ad when you’re app #10 on screen 5. Amazon and Facebook are betting that customized tablet experiences will emerge. There is already a custom Facebook launcher, and Amazon is selling screen-based ads. It’s anticipated that more theme-based tablets might emerge, especially as the tablet costs drop below $100, e.g., a ‘Sports Illustrated Tablet’. These tablets will reestablish the front page ad by making the media property the main event and making the other apps secondary. This kind of tablet model is unlikely to appeal to the technical crowd, who prefer to manage their own tablet experiences, but it may give the non-technical mainstream a reason to acquire a tablet.

    So… I think it’s still too early to decide on the future of magazines on tablets.

  20. The same reason magazine apps fail is the same reason that pay walled newspapers will fail. Pay walls for news content goes completely against the social media flow of information. If newspapers want to remain relevant they have to provide free content to be shared, nobody wants to have there information curated by a single news source any more.

    • Lefty Feep

      My experience tells me that you are largely right about this, notwithstanding kirklandbaseball’s reply, which, albeit true enough, misses the point.

      I find that when I read a magazine on an app, that “paywall” certainly exists. I cannot select an article and send it to my reading application of choice (normally Readability on my ipad, but sometimes Instapaper which is delivered to my Kindle DX). I can’t select an article & send it to my wife or brother or friends or children to read, either. Very few of them allow me to copy a paragraph to file away in Evernote.

      It seems to me that there is some kind of “recombinant” aspect to electronic media where the value to the reader resides. If I am just going to sit down & read the magazine through from cover to cover, that’s no different than reading the print version – but at least my eyes don’t get weary as fast while reading the print version.

      If I made one of these apps, I’d allow for all kinds of copying & sending to others – but I would arrange it so that anyone getting such a copy would have a nice, easy way to visit my website & subscribe themselves. Adding “social” to media should be regarded as advertising the magazine.

    • Jon Lund

      I agree with you Elizabeth, paywalls and native apps both work by separating the content from the open web – which is why clever paywalls lets a reasonable amount of trafic flow freely through the walls. Apps doen’t have the same possiblities for such graduations of the barriers… either you have the app or you don’t.

  21. Tim Shea

    You are missing the most obvious reason for the failure of magazine applications. They offer a horrible user experience. Just downloading GQ takes an hour off the very worst airport wifi connection. And takes no advantage of the platform or real-estate. You can almost smell the cologne advertisements by how obvious they are trying to keep aligned to the print edition.

    Fix that and magazines will flourish on tablet platforms.

  22. bemyguest

    I think the real problem is the poor experience most of them provide. Done well (I’ll point out Wired and Bloomberg Business Week on the iPad) these can provide a very rich and engaging experience. However, most digital magazines I see take very little advantage of the interactivity available or optimizing for the screen and touch. If content creators got serious about really creating optimized experiences for the tablet I think the subs would grow.

    Then you have the problem of access. Those great experiences I used to get on the iPad don’t have similar versions for my new Nexus 7. You can’t ignore the Android tablet market and expect to build a strong revenue stream. Give access to people and the subs will grow.

    Also, the pricing. As already mentioned by others, several digital editions cost more than print. That is insane.

    I think when we have more tablet only magazines, without the cost infrastructure of print, creating truly optimized experiences on all major platforms we will see successful stories. It is just going to take some people with vision and the willingness to build the audience.

  23. Strange. According to this article, I’m an anomaly. I no longer receive any paper based periodicals, but rather only iPad readable. I use Economist magazine app, Sky&Tel I read as a pdf in iBooks. Wish newspapers, I only use WSJ app, NYTimes app, and the Washington post. I have no paper to throw away, and always have all my up to date periodicals with me at all times. Regarding interactive adds, frankly I find them annoying and prefer traditional static images I can more easily read or ignore at my choice. A magazine that doesn’t have a tablet compatible version is less attractive to me. I like being able to download an instant copy of current magazine, rather than to have to search a news stand.

    • Donya Inman

      That’s the problem! Of course the digital version is better than the paper version, but only we 30s and up crowd can appreciate that. What happens to all the teens now who never experienced the paper versions?

  24. keninca

    I don’t think it’s fair to say tablet magazines have failed. Every magazine and newspaper I read that offers a tablet version charges more for the digital version than for the dead tree medium. Which is ridiculous. If you buy the paper subscription, you get digital access for the same price, or less.

    The problem is the way publications sell ads. They charge a lot more for print ads than digital ads, even if the digital ads (like in a magazine) are sticky and don’t change with every view. So they need to keep their print circulation high so they can charge more for those ads. If they increased the price of digital ads, and lowered the digital subscriptions, they might get more tablet subscribers, and less tablet advertisers, but more digital revenue. It’s a chance they have to take if they want to make that transition.

    • Jon Lund

      I wish it was this simple, Kenninca, but new pricing strategies won’t do, I’m afraid. There’s something fundamentally flawed in the magazine-app model…

        • Jon Lund

          Sure, lowering the prices would propably make more people buy. But, for the reasons stated above, I don’t think that’ll do.

          At least it didn’t do the trick for myself: being an international subscriber, I benefitted tremendously from changing my print subscription on Wired to an iPad-only subscription. The price went down from $70 to only $19,99. Plus I now get Wired before the printed magazine hit the streets. When I had the print issue delivered it would take several weeks to get to Europe. I’m still a subscriber – but only very rarely reads it!

      • André Kenji De Sousa

        There is. Most digital magazines are in fact print magazines transported to the tablets, including the ads. Most digital magazines have 300 to 800 mbs. That´s a considerable amount of space for tablets and phones(And that also usually means that most magazines don´t have a phone version).

        • That’s not correct Andre. The average digital magazine, read within an app, is under 50mb. This month’s Glamour, for instance, is over 300 pages and only 10% of your data size claim. If a magazine app isn’t available on iPad (I can’t think of any that aren’t) it’s due to screen size not memory.

  25. “It’s messy but far more open, more accessible and more adaptable to me, my devices and needs.”

    This nails the problem for me. Obsessive control over layout, placement and font were great for the static world, but create artificial boundaries in the digital world, especially for mobile. The content has to adapt to the platform and user rather than pushing a one size fits all experience on the consumer.

    I love print magazines that are well-done, but it is rare I find the same experience in digital form.

  26. In addition to the magazine app, you need a browser version of the magazine and a site. Then you cross promote. It helps to create an interactive magazine app instead of a replica. People will come back if they get to drive.

    • Jon Lund

      Hi Kelly – publishers must absolutely feel free to develop an app for the very limited audience they most likely will be able to attract. All I’m saying is: please focus on making a great website of the kind that adapt to your device, making it possible for your magazine to flow freely on the searchable, social and open web.

  27. I agree with the article. I do not agree with the title of the article. I’m not sure I would call the whole idea a failure in monetary terms. You can look at Wired’s digital numbers and say that they only have 102,450 digital subscriptions.. You could also say that they have 102,450 subscriptions that they may not have had without the digital component. If it is generating money for them I’m not sure I would call that a failure. Your argument that this is a bad format from a social media perspective is completely valid however and I agree with that.

    • Jon Lund

      Hi M. Thomas Ridley – Sure, a hundred thousand paying customers are better than none. But it isn’t going to save a sunset industry. And it indicates that going in a more open, web-oriented format, would yield much better results.

    • Edith Perez

      Hi M. Thomas Ridley – Sure, a hundred thousand paying customers are better than none. But it isn’t going to save a sunset industry. And it indicates that going in a more open, web-oriented format, would yield much better results.