Nieman Foundation at Harvard
HOME
          
LATEST STORY
News n00bs: The quest for new audiences has taken The Washington Post to the streaming platform Twitch
ABOUT                    SUBSCRIBE
Nov. 26, 2008, 2:22 p.m.

More on Kindle: Seattle, San Jose doing well; Houston not so much

Martin Langeveld points out in the comments to my post on the New York Times’ Kindle subscribers that there is a way to put newspaper Kindle subscriptions in the context of all content purchased for the device.

The chart below shows all American newspapers with a Kindle edition. The first column of numbers is how subscriptions to that newspaper rank among all the things (mostly books) you can buy on the Kindle. For example, the New York Times is the 27th most popular thing Kindle users buy. The next column is the newspaper’s most recent print circulation totals, from October. (I couldn’t find Austin’s or the Investor’s Business Daily’s anywhere online — let me know if you know them.)

Now, these numbers are awfully opaque; there’s no way to know how many Kindle subscriptions 792nd place earns the San Francisco Chronicle. But there are a couple conclusions you can draw:

— There’s a significant dropoff in Kindle popularity after you get past the Times and the Journal; there’s a next tier that includes the Post, LA Times, and Tribune; and then a long way down before you get to the major metro papers. I suspect those dropoffs in Kindle subscriptions are steeper than their print counterparts are — the rich get richer, and everybody else struggles to define their value proposition.

Internet theorists will recognize this as the familiar power law/“long tail” effect — the idea that the ease of distribution online brings more users to a few (like the NYT) and flattens out the many (like the metros). Or to put it another way: If you can get any newspaper in the country on your Kindle, why not get The New York Times?

— There are some interesting anomalies. The Seattle Times substantially outsells the Houston Chronicle on Kindle despite having half the print circulation — I would imagine because Seattle has more early-adopter tech-types, the sort of people who would buy a Kindle at this stage. (Also, the Seattle P-I doesn’t seem to have a Kindle edition yet.) Philadelphia, Arizona, and Boston look to be underperformers, compared to their print circulation; San Jose, Atlanta, and Orange County are punching above their weight. (So is Austin, whose daily circ is somewhere in the 160Ks now, I think.)

POSTED     Nov. 26, 2008, 2:22 p.m.
SHARE THIS STORY
   
 
Join the 45,000 who get the freshest future-of-journalism news in our daily email.
News n00bs: The quest for new audiences has taken The Washington Post to the streaming platform Twitch
“It’s like a version of C-SPAN for a younger audience.”
Wilson FM, which aims to “elevate podcast aesthetics,” is the first exciting podcast app in a long while
“I’ve always had a soft spot for print design and aesthetics that have a point of view or opinion. But I’ve been working in tech for quite some time and am just tired of this A/B-tested, data-proven, metric-driven design.”
Dog-eared MP3s: The podcast and book publishing industries are finding new ways to cross-pollinate
Plus: S-Town gets sued, Spotlight goes audio, and a remarkable new podcast player named Wilson FM.