Magazine publisher Condé Nast reports that The New Yorker's iPad version now has 100,000 readers, including about 20,000 people who have subscribed for $59.99 per year. In addition, "several thousand" people buy single weekly issues for $4.99.

The New Yorker's success on the iPad makes sense on multiple levels. Its rich illustrations and long-form content fit both the iPad's laid-back, hands-on use case and its target audience. But the app also fits into a successful and growing category of reading apps that clear out all the clutter and just focus on the reading. As publishers of other high-profile magazine apps see interest waning, a successful genre of iPad magazine may finally be emerging.

Condé Nast's digital magazine business has seen its fair share of ups and downs, and AdWeek's analysis of their sales finds that digital editions only amount to 1.3% of total circulation, anyway. But the relative success of the New Yorker app suggests that it might have a winning format.

The magazine is already known for its sparse, text-focused design, and the iPad version retains the magazine's classic aesthetic. The success of distraction-free reading apps like Instapaper, which was included in Apple's iPad Hall of Fame for its dominance in the news category, suggests that this kind of reading experience is what iPad users want. Then again, it could just be that the New Yorker and the iPad happen to appeal to the same audience.

By contrast, Wired, which was Condé Nast's early entry into the native iPad market, saw an initial burst of enthusiasm, but its sales declined markedly after that. Wired's layout is more dynamic and multimedia, and the downloads are bulky, which could discourage sustained interest.

This unconventional strategy might work for the New York Post, but it works against users of the Web.
Other iPad magazines, like NewsCorp's The Daily, have media-rich, complicated interfaces and large downloads, and while The Daily is guarded about its usage stats, its sharing data from social media suggest a marked decline and plateau in user engagement since its launch.

The New York Post's iPad app, with its loud, bold layout, has bullied its way to the top of the heap, edging out even Instapaper as a top-grossing news app, but it did so by blocking its Web content explicitly from the iPad's browser, even though it's available on the desktop and other devices. This unconventional strategy might work for the Post, but it works against users of the Web.

Meanwhile, Condé Nast has not bet its digital business exclusively on native apps. Last week, it became the first advertising partner on Flipboard, the iPad reading app that pulls in content from any number of user-selected feeds to create a magazine-like experience. The New Yorker's Flipboard edition, which offers the same free content as the New Yorker's website, is the first Flipboard feed to display ads. But other than these interspersed ads, the Flipboard reading experience is clean and quiet.

The newest crop of magazine-like apps, such as The Atlantic's new standalone edition and AOL's personalized AOL Editions, look much more like Flipboard than The Daily. With the New Yorker and other iPad reading apps posting some positive signs, competition for points of sale heating up, and overall Web traffic from tablets growing strongly, the market for magazine-style reading in digital formats could be starting to gel.