October 28, 2015 at 10:49

It was five years ago...

It was five years ago...

Happy birthday to Evgeny Lebedev's i - a counter-intuitive success

Roy Greenslade


i, the Independent’s little sister that eventually morphed - in sales terms - into being its big sister, has reached its fifth birthday.

Monday’s issue included pieces by its editor, Oliver Duff, and its owner, Evgeny Lebedev (What looks like genius now seemed for a while like madness), in six celebratory pages.

Lebedev revealed that “an experienced and successful newspaper proprietor” called his chairman on the paper’s debut to say: “You must be f***ing joking... What do you think you’re doing?”

Engagingly, Lebedev admits to having had doubts himself about his “rather counter-intuitive” launch and afterwards “had a few dark nights of the soul.”

“Yet,” he wrote, “at the core was an idea, a product, which fundamentally made sense then and – given you’re reading these words five years on – makes sense now.”

Yes, with circulation of 277,000 at the last count, compared to the Independent’s 58,000, it has proved to be a hit with the newspaper-reading public.

Its price has risen from 20p at launch to 40p, but it has suffered only a relatively mild fall-off in sales in recent times.

I’ll admit that I never expected it to do so well, although I did believe it would draw people away from the “mothership” (the Indy), which has surely happened.

I note that it quotes me as writing in October 2010 that i would prove to be the precursor to the Independent becoming a free daily, which has not happened of course.

And I was quick to argue later that month that i was not attracting readers. Wrong again and, truthfully, I am happy to have been wrong. So I am pleased to wish the paper, its editor and proprietor a happy birthday

Tags: The Independent

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