The New Yorker has sold more than 20,000 annual paid iPad subscriptions since Conde Nast overhauled its iPad magazine strategy in May. 20,000 readers are now subscribed to the annual US$59.99 iPad-only edition of the quintessential news, social, and literary magazine while every week another 5,000 people buy single issues of the magazine for $4.99. While this is good news for Conde Nast, it also reflects heavily on The New Yorker as a magazine and speaks to its digital distribution strategy.
Of all Conde Nast's iPad magazines, The New Yorker has achieved the highest subscription rates by eschewing the interactive and sometimes annoying eye-candy content and navigation other digital magazines have been using in their apps. As The New York Times points out, "The New Yorker, a magazine that has always been heavy on text, took a different tack from its peers. Instead of loading its iPad app with interactive features, the magazine focused on presenting its articles in a clean, readable format." In other words, even on a device like the iPad, the content and skilled editorial decisions of a magazine seem to matter more than distracting visual flair like page curls, flips, and transitions.
Pamela Maffei McCarthy, The New Yorker's deputy editor, told The New York Times, "That was really important to us: to create an app all about reading. 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." Good advice.