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‘Wired’ scores on first iPad edition

A friend of mine was waiting for a flight recently and called to tell me that he was reading Wired magazine.

“And I can keep reading it when the plane takes off; they won’t make me put it away,” he said, clearly comparing his version with the first edition of Wired I’d just downloaded to the iPad.

“Sure, but can you watch a video clip from the Pixar story or get a 360-degree look at Iron Man’s suit?” I asked.

“No.”

“How about audio files? Does it play audio files?”

“No.”

“Mine does.”

“The little subscription cards probably don’t fall out of yours either, do they?”

“Nope.”

Along with the full text of the print edition, mine had more than 40 pieces of multimedia or interaction points. We paid the same price for both editions of the magazine, but I know mine was more fun to browse.

A lot of other people must have thought so, too. Wired editor Chris Anderson recently passed on the news that the iPad version of the magazine’s June edition outsold the print version on the newsstand. It topped 90,000 copies, while the print version sells around 82,000 single copies each month (in addition to the 672,000 copies that go to subscribers). He also said he expected to continue selling the iPad version “until the end of time.”

That’s a fine goal, but the trick will be to meet or beat that first set of numbers. Will sales drop as the hype and novelty fades? I expect declines until a core audience is established — one that’s willing to part with $5 a month when they could get an annual subscription to the printed magazine for $10.

Would Conde Nast, the magazine’s publisher, still come out ahead by offering a subscription for the iPad version? After all, digital transmission will continue to cost a fraction of the money spent on publishing and distributing the print version.

Will I buy the July issue when it’s released in a few days? Maybe. As with my casual purchases of the print version, it will probably depend on the cover story.

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