Wired: New Publishing Economics

Just noticed a tweet appear from Wired’s UK editor:

Publishing finds a new model: By Monday evening, the US WIRED iPad app had been downloaded 62,431 times. For real money – at $4.99 a popless than a minute ago via web

So, in other words, the June edition of US Wired, that’s only been on sale for about a week and has generated $311,000.

Naturally there are some caveats – this a product for technically savvy users who are likely to be iPad early adopters, this is digital issue one – so people are experimenting by downloading it and Apple will be taking 30% of that revenue for themselves.

US Wired seems to ‘sell’ around 700,000 printed issues. From a low base of installed iPad’s they’ve instantly generated 10% of that digitally (without having to worry about printing and distributon costs) and that’s still by selling their iPad edition for the same price as their printed edition (I wonder what the cost per issue is digitally is vs a printed one).

Some may argue that the app is a mere glorified CD-Rom, but this is the first time that publishing seems to have a chance of making money on a digital edition. This is also a publisher that makes most of the same content available for free online, so this isn’t a discounted version or some sort of exclusive iPad only content.

The big change is form factor. It’s on a device that is great for reading this type of content and it’s very easy to purchase as there’s virtually no friction if your credit card details reside in the iTunes Store.

So, in summary, quality content, high quality brand, easy to find, easy to pay for and – probably most importantly – on a device that the content suits. Perhaps there is some money in this digital revolution after all!

One thought on “Wired: New Publishing Economics”

  1. Intriguing, but I think it’s probably a little early to claim that a new publishing model has been found.

    This is Wired magazine after all.

    Some questions that will need answering over the longer term:

    How many people will buy next month’s magazine digitally? And the one after that? We’re still in the discovery phase of iPads with new purchasers looking around to see what’s available.

    How much does it cost to produce the digital version cost to produce on an ongoing basis? (Don’t forget that Apple keeps about $100,000 of that revenue. That said, paper subsciptions generate very little revenue compared with newstand sales. So a more detailed breakdown of the magazine’s economics is needed).

    Is this repeatable with broader magazines? And if it is, will this impact on Wired’s sales? $4.99 might not worry you on a one-off basis, but repeated 5-10 times in a month, it becomes a significant cost. Currently your magazine choices are essentially limited to Wired and GQ. But as more digital editions are created, the selection becomes more like your newsagent.

    Will digital editions work better for advertisers? The obvious answer might be “yes” since you can collect data, see click-throughs and so on. But advertisers pay premiums for backcovers because they’re left lying around being seen in your home even when you’re not reading the magazine. When your digital edition is closed, the ad is invisible.

    And how might any of this affect bricks and mortar stores? Ie. newsagents. That’s for the longer term.

    Fascinating early stats, but let’s see what pans out.

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