Is the iPad Saving Magazines Yet?

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Well, Apple, have you plugged the hole yet?

Magazines have been leaking money for years, but preliminary data suggests Apple's latest device has a fighting chance at guiding the industry back to profitability.

According to Zinio, an electronic magazine publisher, users who downloaded its clients' magazines are spending at least 80 minutes with each issue, Mediaweek reports. The data, they note is "far from conclusive" and Zinio, of course, has an interest in the success of the iPad, but other publishers are celebrating some positive early results, too.

Publishing giant Conde Nast

said users spend about 60 minutes with each issue of the company's iPad magazine editions, according to The Associated Press. And Hearst's Esquire app recently passed the 100,000-downloaded mark, although that app is basically a store for issues and subscriptions and the company isn't releasing sales data yet. (Update: that's Esquire's iPhone app, not iPad app.) According to Crain's New York Business, the iPad version of Conde Nast's Wired magazine is doing well, too:

In the nine days since it launched its $4.99 iPad application, Wired has sold close to 73,000 downloads--almost as many copies as the magazine sells on the newsstand--spending five days in the No. 1 paid app slot. All the attention leading up to the launch has contributed to a 20% spike in advertising pages in the first half of the year, compared with the same period a year earlier, making the magazine Condé Nast's biggest gainer, according to Media Industry Newsletter.

The Wired app may be close to matching its newsstand sales numbers, but the magazine could press app advertisers for more money. Newspapers and magazines are charging advertisers up to five times more for iPad ads than for print ads, according to the AP:

Jason Fulmines, director of mobile products for USA Today's corporate parent, Gannett Co., says the newspaper is charging Marriott about $50 for every thousand times, or impressions, the ad appears. The average rate for USA Today's regular Web site is less than $10, he said. In the printed newspaper, the cost per thousand impressions on a full-page color ad that runs nationally is $103.

Of course, all of these numbers are very preliminary. Publishers will have to make sure iPad apps provide a better experience than their free websites. Also, as the AP suggests, the increasing popularity of the device could diminish ad values as the iPad's novelty wears off and, presumably, as users become more accustomed to seeing -- and ignoring -- the ads.

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Niraj Chokshi is a former staff editor at TheAtlantic.com, where he wrote about technology. He is currently freelancing and can be reached through his personal website, NirajC.com. More

Niraj previously reported on the business of the nation's largest law firms for The Recorder, a San Francisco legal newspaper. He has also been published in The Hartford Courant, The Seattle Times and The Age, in Melbourne, Australia. He's also a longtime programmer and sometimes website designer.
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