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]