Hearst Hits 100k Cosmo App Subscribers En Route To 1 Million Paying Digital Readers

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Another milestone for old-school print magazines moving into a digital future: Cosmopolitan says that it now has 100,000 people paying to read the digital edition of its monthly fashion/beauty/lifestyle magazine. That puts publisher, Hearst, one step closer to a target set by president David Carey last November to rack up one million paying subscribers across all of its non-print editions this year.

The 100,000 readers, Hearst says, come from its presence on a number of newsstands, including Apple, Zinio, Barnes & Noble and Amazon Kindle, where prices go from $1.99 for a one-month subscription to $19.99 for a full year of the magazine.

It’s not clear which of these newsstands is selling the most at the moment (we’ve asked). Zinio was the first of these launched by Hearst back in 2005, but the boom in digital reading, and specifically paying for the privilege, has really only taken off in the last couple of years with the rise of e-reading devices and tablets like the iPad and Kindle, and so these may be the storefronts doing the most business for Hearst at the moment.

Hearst says that now it has 500,000 paying readers across the whole of its digital magazine footprint. That means the publisher has added 100,000 subscribers since the end of November. That footprint also includes titles like Esquire, Good Housekeeping, Harper’s Bazaar and O.

It looks like Cosmo — being the first to get the 100,000-subscriber-announcement treatment — may be the biggest of these at the moment. But they are all growing at a clip right now, it seems: back in November 2011, Carey noted that the subscriber base was growing at a rate of 10-15 percent per month.

But while Hearst’s big magazine brands may be carrying the day right now, the publisher is also banking on readers for digital-only spinoffs — products that in the heyday of printed magazines may have been physical editions in their own right, but today are made or broken by the amount of capital investment they would require to get off the ground. These “brand extensions” have included CFG: Cosmo for Guys on the iPad, but also one-off apps that riff on themes from the main magazine, such as Cosmopolitan’s Sex Position of the Day; more apparently are to come.

All this on top of the digital audience that Cosmo is attracting to its free online properties: Cosmopolitan.com, for example, currently has 7 million unique visitors per month, Hearst says.