Better late than never: Two of Conde Nast's storied brands, Lucky and Architectural Digest, are releasing digital editions for the iPad, Kindle Fire and Nook Color Tuesday.
I sampled Lucky's September issue on an iPad this morning, and it looked great. The magazine's photo-packed pages and snappy, colorful layouts lend themselves well to the device -- better than, say, Vogue or Vanity Fair, whose elaborate photo stories are more optimally viewed in a printed, double-page spread.
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Lucky has been formatted in a way that encourages readers to shop directly from the issue. Take for example the look below, which prompts users to "Shop it!" by scrolling down and clicking on links to buy it online. Clicking will send readers to the product pages of various retailers via an in-app browser, where they can complete their purchases. There's also a section with discounts exclusive to digital readers, like 40% off of a Fred Flare faux-leather "Florence" bag.
Lucky does not take a cut of any sales made through the app, but that may not always remain the case. Editor in chief Brandon Holley told WWD that the magazine may eventually partner with retailers in a revenue-sharing scheme, but did not offer a timeline. “We’re signing things. We’re planning things. It’s in the works. We are in the process of building a larger road map," she said.
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Holley did say that the magazine is actively planning to build a branded site where readers could add items (presumably from advertisers) to a shopping cart and check out without leaving luckymag.com -- though Lucky wouldn't own the merchandise, nor handle any of the logistics concerning payment, shipments and returns.
By Holley's description, it sounds similar to GQ's partnership with Nordstrom, or Refinery29's "Shops" section. The latter lets readers browse and make purchases from multiple retailers directly on the site. Shoppers pay a flat $5.95 shipping fee if their orders amount to $75 or more; inventory, shipping and returns are handled separately by the vendor.
Why Magazines Needs to Look Beyond Traditional Advertising
As a whole, the magazine industry has embraced tablets. The vast majority of magazines at Conde Nast and Time Inc. are now available as digital editions, as are all of Hearst's. Yet, as L2 pointed out in its latest annual magazine study, "Despite the industry's enthusiasm, monetizing digital editions at scale is not yet a reality." Cumulative subscriptions to digital editions numbered only 3.1 million in the second half of 2011 -- less than 1% of total of print circulation.
Nor is the opportunity necessarily very large. According to analytics firm Distimo, iPad owners only spent an aggregate of about $70,000 per day on magazine and newspaper apps purchased through Apple's Newsstand in March. By comparison, the top 100 print magazines in 2011 brought in daily circulation revenue of $1.75 million.
"Magazines have struggled to adopt business models beyond traditional advertising. This has led to an understandable fixation with tablets, which foot well to existing sales models and content format," L2 wrote.
Given Lucky's latest ad numbers -- ad pages for its September issue fell 26% from last year to 136 pages, while other Conde Nast titles Vogue and Allure were up 13% and 14% respectively -- it makes sense that Lucky would (and needs to) be among the first to explore beyond traditional advertising models for its digital properties.
Lucky is available in the Newsstand for $3.99 per issue, $1.99 per month or $14.99 per year. Print subscribers can access the digital edition for free by entering their credentials.
Architectural Digest, another Conde Nast publication, is also launching on the iPad, Kindle Fire and Nook Tuesday. Individual copies cost $5.99. One-month subscriptions are available for $2.99, and one-year subscriptions are available for $29.99. As with all other Conde Nast publications, the digital edition is available for free to print subscribers.
This story originally published on Mashable here.