Magazines Gotta Change for Tablet Market


magstand_smallADOTAS – Starting with the launch of the iPad and then bolstered by new Android-based tablets, the tablet market has publishers equally excited about the future of magazines and nervous about their transition to the tablet market.

The tablet market is expected to hit 58 million units by 2014, according to In-Stat. Though surfing the Internet and emailing are the top two activities for most tablet users, the interactivity, convenience and environmental benefits of reading on a device rather than a paper magazine are driving demand for “maglets.”

Mixed Results. However, the maglet (magazine on tablet) editions of popular magazines have been met with mixed results. Initially, publishers embraced this format and many claimed that it would revive the industry. Conde Nast, Time Warner and other major publishers were quick to create separate apps for each new edition of their magazines. Sales for the apps have been lackluster and publishers are discovering that embracing the new technology of tablets isn’t as simple as they thought it would be.

The slow sales may be due to the way publishers are interacting with the new technology. Here are three specific mistakes that are prohibiting the sales of more maglets, and how publishers can work to fix them.

Problem: Clunky distribution through individual apps for each issue.

Solution: Embracing the change and adapting to the best distribution platform.

Each new issue of major magazines is available as an individual app, causing fans of a publication to seek out the new app for the issue and download it each month. This significantly decreases repeat business and can limit the sales of a publication. Embracing a subscription-based model has its costs, but can actually pay off in the long run for publishers. Even though the share of the profits they have to contribute is higher than publishers are used to (30% for the iTunes market and 10% for the Google market), offering online subscriptions rather than individual apps can increase engagement and readership.

Problem: Expecting consumers to purchase the same content twice.

Solution: Pairing a print subscription with access to a maglet edition.

Most people who would read a maglet edition of a magazine have the magazine subscription in print, or would buy the physical edition – which leaves fans of the magazine having to pay twice for the same content. Sports Illustrated is attempting to solve this problem in the coming year by eliminating its print only subscriptions. Subscribers will pay $48 for the All Access Pass (a $9 increase from the regular subscription rate) that includes access to an Android version of the magazine.

Problem: Digital versions offer no “perks” or extras.

Solution: Increasing interactivity in maglets.

Most magazines on the iPad have a 2.5/5 star rating on the Apple market – mainly because the maglets just aren’t competitive with the other available media. Publishers need to be innovative when it comes to publishing on the iPad and Android tablets. People interact with digital information differently than with print versions – but publishers have yet to make the most of the interactive potential.

Publishing companies have yet to make the most out of tablets – but there are several areas they can improve on. By solving these problems with specific solutions, maglets can take the tablet world by storm.


  1. I agree with two of the points but not sure the last point is valid. If it’s a magazine then let it be a magazine. I think the only additional functionality in the magazine itself should be links additional content which can be interactive as needed but the basic magazine should not change that much. Let’s not confuse reading a magazine with browsing a web site even if they are both accessed in digital form.

    I currently subscribe to online magazines through Zinio using the iPad. The size of the iPad in portrait mode is perfect for a magazine page.

  2. I am very interested in seeing how this is going to turn out. The problem I really see is that we will start to confuse browsing the internet with looking at a magazine even thought they are both done digitally. Not sure how it will turn out in the long run.


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