The Economist and National Geographic surpassed the milestone in 2011.
Cosmopolitan magazine has sold its 100,000th digital subscription, making it the first Hearst title to reach the milestone and providing a bit of hope for the struggling magazine industry.
Cosmopolitan is not the first magazine to claim to have sold 100,000 digital subscriptions. The Economist said it surpassed that mark in November 2011, about the same time as National Geographic. Among newspapers, the New York Times sold 100,000 digital subscriptions within three days of launching its paywall in April 2011, and the Times of London said it surpassed the milestone in June of last year.
Cosmopolitan has been available for download on Zinio since 2005, giving it a bit of a head start among most magazines. Overall, Hearst has sold more than 500,000 digital subscriptions across its magazine portfolio — which includes Redbook, Good Housekeeping, Popular Mechanics and Esquire — and expects to reach 1 million by the end of this year.
"Reaching this substantial milestone is one more illustration of the power of the Cosmopolitan brand," said Kate White, Cosmopolitan editor-in-chief, in a press release. "We answered the call from our readers who wanted access to the magazine's fresh, fun and engaging content wherever they are."
Even more encouraging for magazine publishers is that consumers are apparently willing to pay more for a digital subscription than a print one. Subscriptions to Cosmopolitan's hard copy can be had for $15 a year, whereas a one-year iPad subscription costs $19.99. Today, Cosmopolitan subscriptions can be bought on most digital newsstands, including Apple, Barnes & Noble and Amazon Kindle, at varying prices.
Aiding Cosmo's numbers is its approach to digital subscriptions: Unlike many of its competitors, Cosmopolitan doesn’t include digital access as part of its print subscription. Readers are forced to pay for each separately, and apparently don’t mind doing so.
David Carey, president of Hearst Magazines, said in the release that Cosmo's digital success has allowed the company to test new brand concepts, like the iPad-only Cosmo for Guys. Readers and advertisers can expect Hearst to test similar experiments in the future, he said.
Douglas Quenqua is a journalist based in Brooklyn, NY who writes about culture and technology. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Wired, The New York Observer, and Fortune.
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