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Nomad Editions Calls it Quits

Mobile publisher shuts three remaining titles
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Nearly three years after launching Nomad Editions, Mark Edmiston is all but calling it quits—providing yet another example of just how hard it is to start a mobile-only publication from scratch.

Edmiston, a former president/CEO of Newsweek turned media investment-banker, said he would discontinue Nomad’s three remaining titles. They are Uncorked, a wine magazine; Snooth Wine Buyers’ Guide, which was distributed to users of the Snooth online wine guide; and Hemmings Classic Wheels, which was created for the eponymous car marketplace.

“After struggling for close to three years, we’ve decided to discontinue the consumer-facing magazines,” he said.

Edmiston co-founded Nomad in late 2010 as the tablet market was starting to emerge, and believed that the momentum behind the iPad, Amazon and other tablets would help the company take off with readers. He brought on former Bon Appétit editor in chief Barbara Fairchild to edit one of them, a weekly food magazine called Real Eats; the designer Roger Black was on the launch team. Edmiston talked of publishing 20 titles with a combined circulation of 200,000 within a year. But getting the titles discovered in the Apple App Store, their main distribution source, was harder than he expected, which in turn made it hard to attract advertising.

“The internal numbers are great,” Edmiston said, noting that he saw renewal rates that topped 90 percent. “We’re just not able to get enough subscribers. It’s steadily improving. But we’re still 20 percent of where we need to be profitable. We need to get to about 10,000 subscriptions.”

The writing has on the wall for a while for Nomad. Edmiston had already shed titles that didn’t take off, lowered the subscription price, and explored custom publishing.

Other publishers with far more resources have also discovered the challenges of a mobile, consumer-paid publishing model. The Huffington Post switched its weekly iPad magazine to free from paid after just five issues, and News Corp.’s The Daily has slashed its staff by one third after the iPad newspaper fell far short of Rupert Murdoch’s 500,000-circulation goal (despite heavy promotion by Apple).

Edmiston said he planned to continue to Nomad’s burgeoning custom publishing business, but for the company’s 14 employees, it seems to be time to start job hunting.