The Spectator’s sales figures are out today, and I’m delighted to say that sales of the magazine are now growing at their fastest rate in ten years — driven by our new digital formats. The above chart shows how things are moving. I thought CoffeeHousers might like to know a bit more about how we in 22 Old Queen St see it all.
The magazine industry, like the rest of print, is going through something of a revolution. Readers are migrating to digital formats, which many of our overseas subscribes prefer as there is no waiting for delivery. Kindle addicts like having their magazines and newspapers waiting for them in their pocket, available to read any time. As our readers changed, so has The Spectator. Our Kindle edition is no.1 in Amazon’s ‘News, Politics & Opinion’ charts. We now have two iPad Apps: one which contains Coffee House (download it here) and an ‘Exact Edition’ of The Spectator, a graphics-based replication of the magazine.
We decided to cut down on bulks: free magazines, distributed in hotels etc, and instead spend the money on digital development. As a result the ABC figures, released today, show a headline decline – but the same ABC figures also show an increase in actively-purchased copies of the magazine, for the first time in five years. This, in pretty horrid market conditions, is something we’re very pleased with. Our Australia-only edition, edited by Tom Switzer, is also showing impressive growth.
New readers, world over, are discovering The Spectator for the first time — and thanks to Kindle and iPad everyone can read it on a Thursday morning from Sydney to Salisbury. Many others are happy to wait until the weekend, to have something to curl up with on the sofa.
As this is all about sales, it doesn’t include Coffee House, which is a new jewel in The Spectator’s crown — and one created by my predecessor, Matthew d’Ancona. He
positioned The Spectator for an era of digital growth, and we're seeing the effects now. Coffee House, I think, can claim to boast the smartest conversation on the web — and that’s due to the quality of the comments from CoffeeHousers. We baristas just start the conversation.
Don’t think we’re abandoning print: we redesigned the magazine recently, and for certain readers (myself included) there will never be a substitute for print. The first manifestation of The Spectator came 301 years ago: the Addison & Steele edition which reported gossip from the coffee houses of London. The current magazine has been going since 1828 and Coffee House itself since 2007. Ways of reading The Spectator are evolving, but the character of the magazine itself has remained pretty constant over the generations. With Coffee House, the readers are now actors in
the evolution of the Spectator.