Digital back issues

Adweek (in some ways the successor to Mediaweek) recently reported that some publishers have had success with tablet owners buying digital versions of back issues of magazines.

For example, Hearst reports that back issues make up 30% of single-copy digital sales, while two Martha Stewart publications claim that a quarter of their single-copy digital sales involve older issues. Here, the inherent scarcity of an off-sale date may be working to the advantage of periodical publishers.

Bonnier, a special-interest publisher whose titles include Popular Mechanics, lowered the price of its back issues by 40% and sees a steady business.

In the Adweek piece, Hearst president David Carey noted, “Much of our content is truly timeless.”

If that holds up, it might also become an argument for making that content much more agile and recombinant. That way, readers won’t just buy issues; they’ll design and buy their own custom content solutions.

About Brian O'Leary

Founder and principal of Magellan Media Consulting, Brian O’Leary helps enterprises with media and publishing components capitalize on the power of content. A veteran of more than 30 years in the publishing industry and a prolific content producer himself, Brian leverages the breadth and depth of his experience to deliver innovative content solutions.

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