Yesterday was all doom and gloom for the future of print over at The New York Times, which reported an average newsstand loss in the magazine industry of 9.1 percent and an overall circulation decline of 2.2 percent from the previous year. While we floated the idea that some of the publishers that actually showed gains (Rodale and Meredith) operated in a niche market for customers, there might be even better news over at AdAge, where Nat Ives pointed out that the individual sale losses have actually slowed down in the past year. Big sellers like Cosmopolitan and Us Weekly either slowed down their decline to the single digits, or actually improved their single-copy sales, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations. So what’s the logic behind the market? Why did Us Weekly gain 1 percent in sales while In Touch plummeted over 10 percent? And what can cause a magazine to do fare better in subscription form than single-issue, like Woman’s Day?
Ives floated the idea in a previous article that magazines that continue to cut down the cost of yearly subscriptions were hurting themselves since “the less money magazines collect from subscribers, the more publishers depend on advertiser demand for ad pages — demand that plunged through the floor in the recession and does not seem likely to fully return.”
So we’re not out of the woods yet, and clearly publishers have to adjust to the idea that America might be hearkening back to a Fleet Street model of magazine sales…but these audit numbers can mean a lot of different things, depending on which way you’re looking. And it’s not all as bad as you think.
Previously: No Hope For Newsstand Sales?