Peter Kafka

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Hearst Gets Its Million Digital Subscribers

Hearst David CareyLast year, Hearst Magazines head David Carey said his company would have a million people subscribing to its tablet editions by the end of 2012.

That didn’t happen, and they ended December with something like 900,000 subscribers. But now it has: Carey said Hearst hit the one million mark at the end of March.

“I’m glad we got there,” Carey said. “We were just 90 days late.”

In February, at our D: Dive Into Media conference, Carey said he thinks that in 2016, Hearst will have three million digital subscribers, or about 10 percent of his entire base.

As we’ve noted before, tablets aren’t going to save the magazine business, but they are a nice new revenue stream for it. And a million is very respectable, given that the iPad only showed up three years ago, and publishers really didn’t have a way of offering digital subscriptions through Apple’s iTunes until midway through 2011. (That number also includes Nook and Kindle subscribers, and, theoretically, some Android owners, too.)

To refresh your memory on Carey’s take on digital and print publishing, here’s the highlight reel of my chat with him a couple months ago:

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work