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Sales of Magazine iPad Issues Slide Despite Booming iPad Sales

Good news — and bad — for publishers touting Apple’s tablet as savoir

For all of those magazine publishers that hailed Apple’s iPad as a savoir for sputtering print sales, we have some good news and some bad news.

First, the good news:

According to the DigiTimes, manufacturers of iPad parts in Taiwan say they expect Apple to ship 65 million iPad tablets in 2011. You read that correctly: 65 million.

Given how Amazon boasted about its Kindle sales — which were reportedly north of 8 million in 2011 – and estimates that Apple sold 10-12 million iPads in 2010 (not to mention one projection that 32 million iPads will shipped be shipped), 65 million is a staggering figure. And it ought to galvanize publishers that were taking a wait-and-see approach to developing their own iPad applications.

Now, the bad news:

According to Women’s Wear Daily's John Koblin, sales of magazine iPad issues have fallen off after a promising start:

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. 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. 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.

But perhaps the most disturbing news, as WWD notes, is Wired, which sold more than 100,000 copies of its debut iPad issue: “The magazine averaged 31,000 digital sales between July and September, but even that fell in October and November, with sales coming in at 22,000 and 23,000, respectively. (For comparison, the magazine sold 130,000 total print editions for October and November.)”

It’s worth noting that these figures don’t include December, when people were buying iPads as gifts — and publishers might expect a subsequent holiday sales bump for their fancy apps.

Also, Apple has still yet to allow publishers to sell iPad subscriptions through the iTunes Store, forcing their customers to buy individual issue apps.

If and when they do, iPad magazine subscriptions would figure to be a better indicator of the magazine industry’s fledgling iPad business.