Jon Lund in GigaOM recently declared tablet magazines a failure.
That’s true in the sense that they haven’t substantially impacted overall magazine circulation.
Using Alliance of Audited Media numbers, Lund lists the percentages
that “digital replica” paid subscriptions, such as for tablets,
contributes to the total circulation for 25 magazines. They ranged from a
high of 38 percent of total circulation (Game Informer Magazine, a noted outlier) to 2 percent (People magazine).
Like Lund, I’d discourage any new publication from focusing solely on
tablet apps, stored deep inside iPad folders or in the dreaded
Newsstand, far from the dynamic reach of social media and the Web....
But consider two of my favorite digital magazine apps: The New Yorker and The Atlantic Weekly.
The former, despite its irritating recent switch from paginated
content to breathtakingly long scrolls, offers the cleanest, most
convenient way for me to read New Yorker pieces. And it takes advantage
of the tablet form without resorting to flashy interactive design. Short
videos and poems read aloud by authors enrich the content without
requiring lots of extra production resources.
The Atlantic’s foray into weekly publishing,
meanwhile, also presents a model for tablet content that doesn’t
profess to be a game-changer but fits nicely alongside the company’s
other digital products. The Atlantic Weekly bundles pre-existing content
from the Web that readers might have missed during the week. It
collects only a few stories, presenting them all in the same simple
Although these relatively simply apps certainly cost something in
terms of staff and publishing-platform fees, Atlantic editor-in-chief
James Bennet told Poynter in an email: “We do put a good deal of work
into The Weekly – we wouldn’t be asking readers to pay for it if we
didn’t – but we’ve been pretty rigorous about scoping that work to keep
the costs in line with sales,” Bennet said.
The Atlantic Weekly requires work from four primary staffers: an
editor, copy editor, designer and producer, none of whom work on this
product full-time. He didn’t disclose sales figures but said they’ve
exceeded expectations. Three-quarters of readers are monthly ($2.99) or
yearly ($19.99) subscribers; single editions cost $1.99...