MIT's Technology Review just announced that when they started offering e-version subscriptions in June, their site's magazine
subscription sales rose by 25% (mainly to foreign readers who didn't want to pay or wait for mailed copies), which equaled about 600 paid $30 annual subscriptions sold in "fewer than three days." As of Jan 2002, the magazine had more than 300,000 paid print subscribers, so e-version sales won't make a huge slice of
the pie anytime soon. It's interesting nonetheless.
Instead of putting the magazine up online as password protected HTML pages, or sending people a PDF of it, MIT invested in Zinio
Systems' digital format, which is a lot like the Newsstand format for newspapers. It looks just like print, including layout and ads, but it's on your laptop. Plus it's searchable.
Does this mean people are happily reading their issues online now? I'll bet a bunch of them are hitting their "print" keys and
making do with a stack of black and white pages from their printer. At least that's my experience with the PDF sales in our own store.
Electronic buyers tend to want it faster and without paying customs, they still read anything longer than 2-3 pages in print
no matter what. Although the press release is careful to note that this e-circ qualifies as auditable readership by ABC (Audit
Bureau of Circulations) that doesn't mean advertisers would be thrilled at how their ads turn out on all those black and white printers.