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Publishers: Apple's iOS 5 Newsstand is a huge hit

updated 01:55 am EDT, Thu October 20, 2011

Downloads spiking, sales doubling

Publishers who jumped on board with Apple's Newsstand feature in iOS 5 are seeing big payoffs, with "sampler" issues experiencing a massive spike and sales jumping strongly forward as well. Exact Editions saw their sampler apps downloaded 14 times more often after Newsstand launched compared with how they were doing in the iBookStore before, and sales have doubled "across the board" according to co-founder Adam Hodgkin.

Another magazine publisher, Future Publishing, launched 65 digital editions of their titles, which range from knitting magazines to musician's trade mags, into the iTunes Store and Newsstand as apps and reported "exceptionally high levels of activity," showing five to seven times the number of downloads the company was seeing when its digital editions were only available on Zinio, a popular app that in some ways rivals Newsstand but allows publishers to keep more of the money from sales. Free sample versions of its titles were downloaded more than two million times over the weekend, and it said that it had sold more digital editions during the first four days of Newsstand than it normally sells in a month.

Exact Editions reports that some titles more than doubled their sales, shooting up 150 percent in purchases compared to pre-Newsstand. Hodgkin says "Apple seems to have got[ten] this exactly right," referring both to Newsstand and Apple's earlier introduction of in-app purchasing and auto-renewal subscriptions in iTunes apps. Future Publishing CEO Mark Wood said his company plans to include more sampler issues in the coming weeks along with more "bookazines and premium one-shot titles" (higher page-count editions that focus on a particular topic or event, such as the memorial issues that some magazines are doing on the death of Steve Jobs or "greatest hits" type collections of a magazine's history as examples).

The introduction of in-app purchasing allowed magazines to make renewing subscriptions easy, which resulted in an 80 percent retention rate for Exact Editions. The publisher also credits Apple's relaxing of "over-restrictive" policies on subscription pricing outside of the App Store as key to helping more publishers get on-board. Although Apple does exact a 30 percent toll on revenue generated by App Store subscriptions, it does not stop publishers from offering subscriptions outside the app as long as they also offer the option of in-app purchasing and do not link to outside offers from within the app.

Exact Editons' other co-founder, Daryl Rayner, is equally enthusiastic about the future of digital magazines in and outside of Apple's eco-system, telling PaidContent that 85 percent of their customers are buying titles for their iPads and that "magazines with strong visual impact are doing particularly well ... [but] interestingly, the literary magazines are equally strong." While some magazine publishers have opted out of the App Store eco-system almost entirely -- generally less over Apple's 30 percent take as over its tight control of subscriber data -- Rayner and Hodgkin think the focus that Newsstand brings to periodicals "really could be the very best news for the digital magazine and newspaper industry." [via PaidContent]


Exact Editions' magazine download rates










by MacNN Staff

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Comments

  1. Athens

    Joined: Dec 1969

    +13

    To Much for Digital...

    Now imagine how much they would make if the publications where 99 cents. I would be buying a few of them often. But at 5.00+ a edition nope sorry.

  1. chas_m

    Moderator

    Joined: Dec 1969

    +1

    I disagree

    Why is "digital" less valuable than "paper" in your view?

    As for the price ... shouldn't that depend on the value of the content to you?

  1. hayesk

    Joined: Dec 1969

    +4

    Agreed.

    People get caught up in what they think a price should be based on irrelevant factors. I once saw a comment saying "this app is not worth $50 - it's less than a megabyte". It boggled by mind. So that guy would pay more for less efficient code?

  1. Spacemoose

    Joined: Dec 1969

    +2

    Pricing Model is Wrong

    @chas_m: "Why is "digital" less valuable than "paper" in your view?"

    You're looking at it wrong. Many content creators, from apps, to movies, to games, to publications get caught up on "what is the value of my content".

    That's not the question that should be asked. The question that should be asked is "what price brings in the most money for my content". As is increasingly being shown to be the case, lower prices means higher profits.

    Yesteryear the consumer might subscribe to one or two magazines/newspapers, no cable tv, didnt buy games, or computer programs. But in today's world, where many consumers are buying content from dozens and dozens of sources, they can't afford to spend $5 (or more) a pop. They are increasingly willing to spend more, and more money, but they need variety and value for that money.

    All the content providers are fighting for a piece of that consumer's entertainment budget. The ones that price themselves above what the consumer chooses to spend will not sell much. They may feel they are worth that higher price, but in the end, it' comes down to 'dollars and sense'.

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    Re: Pricing Model is Wrong

    That's not the question that should be asked. The question that should be asked is "what price brings in the most money for my content". As is increasingly being shown to be the case, lower prices means higher profits.

    No it doesn't. Lower prices means higher profits IF you sell more copies. You make the fatally flawed assumption that, if "Bob's Model Train Weekly" magazine was 99 cents vs. 5 dollars, they'd sell 10 times as many copies and make twice the money. But, depending on the title, be it app or publication, the market may have a specific size.

    Just because a few games (like Angry Birds - nope, never played it) took off at 99 cents does not mean that is the model all apps should take.

    Another example: I spend massive resources writing an ssh client for the iPhone and iPad. The app has a value to a select set of people. Cutting the price from $30 to $2 isn't going to get me too many more customers, and certainly not more than will make up for my costs.

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    oh

    You forgot the other problem with the idiot consumer of today. You know, the guy who spends $2 on a publication, and then whines because it contains advertisements. For some reason, they all now think "free" means "ads" and "money" means "ad-free". Yet publications for years have been selling their wares WITH ads, all of which is used to make up the money they need to pay their costs (unless you think all those stories write themselves).

    BTW, publication, material, and distribution costs are a mere fraction of the total cost of a publication.

  1. Spacemoose

    Joined: Dec 1969

    +2

    The proof is in the pudding.

    @testudo: "No it doesn't. Lower prices means higher profits IF you sell more copies. You make the fatally flawed assumption that, if "Bob's Model Train Weekly" magazine was 99 cents vs. 5 dollars, they'd sell 10 times as many copies and make twice the money. But, depending on the title, be it app or publication, the market may have a specific size."

    The proof is in the pudding. The lower pricing model is resulting in significantly higher profits for those who adopt it.

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