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Cosmopolitan Passes Digital Subscription Milestone




Print isn’t dead. . . yet, but we can start writing the obituary.

Cosmopolitan Magazine says they just hit 100,000 paid, digital subscribers and they did it at a higher price point than the print subscription. (Why digital and ebooks often cost more than the print version, I’ll never understand.)

Cosmo, the smart but still sexy magazine for women, also has more than 3 million print subscribers. In 2010, the VP of publishing said that the magazine sells “430,000 copies every month through Walmart alone.” Compared to that, digital is a drop in the virtual bucket, but it’s still a huge achievement.

Magazine and newspaper subscriptions have been a hard sell online and on mobile. It’s not about economics, it’s about psychology. We’ll drop $10 on a latte and muffin or $15 to see a movie, but we don’t want to pay $19.99 for a full year of a digital magazine.

We’ve become so used to getting digital information for free that having to pay even a modest fee feels insulting.

There is hope. As more people discover the joy of tablets, the more we slide toward digital goodies. In November 2011, the Association of Magazine Media reported good news from tablet owners.

The report found that 66% of people who read magazines on tablets and e-Readers think they’ll be spending more time with digital issues over the next year, while 90% are respondents said that they are consuming as much – if not more – magazine content since acquiring a tablet.

Even more encouraging, 59% of digital magazine subscribers said they wanted to buy products directly from the digital pages.

For Cosmopolitan, those 100,000 digital subscribers represent a potential customer pool that’s miles closer to buying the products they see. A print subscriber has to go to the store, remember the brand and locate that lipstick they loved in the ad. For digital subscribers, it can be done with a couple of clicks and the lipstick is on the way.

Why is Cosmo succeeding where others are struggling? A couple of reasons. One, could be that they’re only selling digital subscriptions separately where others offer digital as a bonus with a print subscription. Two, Cosmo told AdAge that there everyone in company works on everything. No separation between the digital and print editorial people. That works toward a clear path and overall company growth.

Third, and probably most important, is the Cosmo demographic. Their average customer is an 18-35, educated, employed woman, mostly single, who want the best things life has to offer. In other words, they have income and a will to spend it on quality items. Can’t get a better customer than that.

What are your thoughts on digital magazine subscriptions? Will they put print out of business or is print here to stay?