Tracking the Number of Downloads of the PDF of the March 2011 Issue of Carolina Arts

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Last month’s excitement over the downloads of the PDF of Carolina Arts has turned to concern. The kind of concern every publisher should have, but I guess I’m a little different.

I won’t keep you hanging any longer if this is of interest to you. As of ten days in March – the PDF of the March 2011 issue of Carolina Arts has been downloaded 35,867 times.

Now let me recap the last couple of months for you. In Jan., our first electronic issue, in the first ten days 3,185 people had downloaded the PDF of the paper and by the end of the month a total of 8,929 had done the same. In Feb., in the first ten days 15,722 people had downloaded the PDF of that issue, a 5 fold increase, and by the end of the month 19,624 downloaded the issue.

The 35,867 number is a staggering figure for me to take in. I’m wondering where these folks are coming from and I’m concerned that this sudden fascination with Carolina Arts will wear off. I hope not, and I vow that Linda and I will do our best to keep the paper interesting, but will this keep up?

Now some might think – it will go over 40,000 buy the end of the month, but I’m not so sure. The bulk of the downloads come in at the beginning of the month. Although funny things happen.

Last month, on Feb. 28, the last day of the month, 5 people downloaded the Feb. PDF. I was hoping to go over 20,000, but it just didn’t happen. On that same day 1,200 people downloaded the Jan. PDF. Go figure.

That look back factor has slowed down this month. In the same ten days in March, 1,538 people downloaded the Feb. PDF and only 301 people downloaded the Jan. PDF.

The Other Factor

Much like the TV show Lost, we’re dealing with The Others.

In our stats program I can look at how many people make contact or call up every page on our website. Every line on that list represents some part of the website – except one. It’s listed as (other). We know very little about this number and our server seems to know a little more, but nothing for sure about this nebulous figure. I hate The Others, because I think they are hiding things from me.

In the first ten days in March the count for (other) was 25,382. According to the folks we talked with at the server, that could mean that out of that number 1 or 25,382 could have viewed the paper or not. Ten people could have viewed the paper in their browser and the other 25,372 could have looked at a commentary I wrote about the SC Arts Commission. They’re very popular.

In Feb., by the end of the month we had 68,739 (others).

Many people who are working themselves to boost the number of folks who download the issues of the paper tell me I’m really underestimating how many people are viewing the paper – so be it. I’m being conservative – for once. The download number is the only number I can be sure of and I’m very happy with these numbers.

I’m concerned that I’m going to wake up one month in June or July, on the 11th day of the month – check the numbers and find out only ten people downloaded that month’s issue. Knock on wood. Can you blame me?

Like I’ve said before I know of several arts groups who are sending the link for the PDF download out to their e-mail lists – some are pretty big list, but the 35,867 number has me wondering – were are all these downloads coming from?

We have heard from a few folks who used to pick up our printed paper out there and maybe those 9,000 to 10,000 folks have finally found us online, but I doubt it. That’s going to take some time to recover those readers – even if they are willing to read an online paper – which is an issue.

I hope whatever is happening keeps on happening, but I want to warn readers that at some point this is going to level off or even fall back – especially when we hit the summer months.

But, if you want to make me even worry more – spread that link around and push those numbers up. I can’t lose much more hair over it, but I might have a few more nightmares of that day when only ten people downloaded the paper. Here’s the link to the page where you can start the download (http://www.carolinaarts.com/311/311carolinaarts.html).

Last month we also stopped offering the articles in the paper separately on our website, but after numerous complains we will be adding them back in, but well after the launch of the paper at the first of the month – more like the middle of the month. We want to move forward, but we don’t want to leave some folks behind.

Thanks if you’re spreading the paper around and if you’re one of The Others – show yourself – click that download.

Finally, it’s hard to think of any of this as being important in the light of what is going on in Japan and Libya, or most of the rest of the world for that matter, but our hearts and prayers go out to these folks who are suffering while we’re worrying about the arts, but it will be artists who help people see what these people went through. We deal with tragedy and hopefully learn from it

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