Hearst: Women finally embracing online magazines thanks to 7-inch screens

The arrival of the iPad (s aapl) in 2010 was supposed to be a game-changer for magazine brands, but subscriptions never took off as expected, especially among women. Now, that’s starting to change thanks to smaller screens that can fit in a purse.

Speaking at the D: Dive Into Media conference in Southern California on Tuesday, Hearst Magazines President David Carey said that 10-inch screens appealed to men for magazine content but that women were reluctant to embrace them. The 7-inch screen such as those found on the Nook or iPad, however, is leading to a surge in female subscribers.

Still, overall tablet figures are hardly overwhelming. Despite the fact that 40 percent of Hearst’s traffic is coming through mobile sites, tablets still account for only three percent of overall revenue; Carey says he hopes to get that figure to 10 percent by 2016. (Note: we’ll be exploring new revenue models for media at paidContent Live in April). Carey had predicted Hearst would reach 1 million digital subscribers by the start of this year but the number came in closer to 800,000.

In the meantime, traditional print magazines will continue to occupy a primary role in Hearst’s business. Carey says that perceptions of magazines have been tarred by the dramatic decline of newspapers. He argues that the ongoing popularity of print magazines with young women as well as their general brand strength means Hearst is in a good position.

Carey also praised Apple’s(s aapl) role in teaching consumers to buy online content. In response to a question about Apple’s control over consumer data, he said this isn’t a problem since 65 percent of readers volunteer to share such data.