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Monday, August 01, 2011, 11:05 pm PT (02:05 am ET)

Conde Nast's text-focused New Yorker iPad app draws 20k subscribers

Publisher Condé Nast has seen early success with its iPad app for The New Yorker magazine, drawing in a total of 100,000 readers, including 20,000 paying digital subscribers.

The New York Times reports the digital subscription numbers for the iPad version of the publisher's flagship magazine. Given that readers pay $59.99 a year for a digital subscription, Condé Nast appears to have made close to $1.2 million in subscription revenue from the app so far, before Apple's 30 percent cut. The digital version has also attracted 75,000 print subscribers who can download the app for free. The remaining several thousand readers choose to buy single issues for $4.99 a week.

The company's strategy for the publication of eschewing tablet-specific interactive features to focus instead on simply providing clean, readable text has led the magazine to become its best-selling iPad product.

“That was really important to us: to create an app all about reading,” said deputy editor Pamela Maffei McCarthy. “There are some bells and whistles, but we’re very careful about that. We think about whether or not they add any value. And if they don’t, out the window they go.”

Condé Nast's New Yorker


Analysts were optimistic about the magazine's success so far. “Those, to me, sound like strong numbers,” comScore vice president Andrew Lipsman said, adding that he was particularly impressed by the fact that customers had paid a premium to subscribe.

In May, The New Yorker became the first of its publisher's titles to begin offering in-app subscriptions. The iPad editions of several other high-profile magazines from the company, such as Wired, GQ, and Vanity Fair have also implemented in-app subscriptions, but have not met with the same success as The New Yorker.

It is not known whether the initial success of The New Yorker app has shifted the company's digital strategy. In April, it was said that the publisher was "tapping the brakes" on iPad editions of its print magazines because of weaker-than-expected sales.

Apple first announced the addition of an in-app subscription feature in February, but quickly drew criticism because of new rules that restricted prices for out-of-app offers and banned links for purchasing content on external websites. Though the publishing industry initially balked at the terms, several major publishers have accepted the iPad maker's terms and initiated in-app subscriptions.

The Cupertino, Calif., company eventually backed down from a rule that required in-app subscription offers to be equal or better to those outside of the app. Apple did not, however, budge on the rule blocking links to out-of-app purchases.

Several prominent companies, including The Wall Street Journal, Amazon and Barnes & Noble have removed "buy" buttons from their apps, rather than give Apple 30 percent of its sales. Streaming video service Hulu also removed from its iPad app a link that sent interested customers to its website.