Dec. 29, 2010 at 1:12 PM ET
Is the novelty of reading magazines on the iPad wearing off, or is it still too soon to tell how they'll do on Apple's popular tablet?
High-profile magazines such as Wired, Vanity Fair, GQ, Glamour and Men's Health, which have invested heavily to create iPad versions of their publications, have all suffered readership losses on the iPad since first debuting between April and the summer.
"Digital sales dropped toward the end of 2010 for all the magazines that make those figures available to the Audit Bureau of Circulations," reports Women's Wear Daily. Among the drops, says WWD:
• Wired's iPad version debuted in June, and was downloaded more than 100,000 times. Between July and September, the magazine had an average of 31,000 "copies" in digital sales; in October and November, it dropped to between 22,000 and 23,000.
• Vanity Fair sold 8,700 digital editions of its November issue, "down from its average of about 10,500 for the August, September and October issues."
• GQ’s November edition "sold 11,000 times, which was its worst performance since April (when the iPad was released) and represents a slight decline from its average digital sales of 13,000 between May and October."
• Glamour sold 4,301 digital editions in September, "but sales dropped 20 percent in October and then another 20 percent, to 2,775, in November."
• Men’s Health, "which averaged digital sales of about 2,800 in the spring, sold 2,000 times in both September and October."
The slump isn't definitive; it's still early in the game for magazine publishers trying out digital editions. With the iPad being among the more popular tech gifts this season, there may be lots more eyeballs looking for magazines.
One thing Apple could do to help that would be to give magazines their own category in the App Store, similar to categories for "Reference" apps, "Healthcare & Fitness" apps and "Entertainment" apps. Right now, unless you search for a publication by name in the App Store, your best shots at seeing what's available is searching in the News category of the App Store. And as crowded as that category is getting, that's not good news for magazines.