Digital Circ Up, but Still Tiny

Magazines still mostly a print-based business

Magazines have doubled their digital circulation in the past year, but publishing remains a mostly ink-on-paper business for the industry.

The Audit Bureau of Circulations’ latest magazine report is out, and for the first time, the ABC broke out digital replica circulation for each title in a stand-alone column. Digital replicas accounted for 1.7 percent of overall magazine circulation, or 5.4 million digital replica editions. That's up from about 2 million digital replica editions a year ago, or less than 1 percent of total magazine circulation.

The top sellers of digital copies included some surprises. Game Informer magazine had the biggest digital circulation, reporting 1.2 million digital copies. Nylon, a small fashion title, had 75,184 digital editions, accounting for more than 35 percent of its total circulation of 216,466. Meanwhile, Parenting and Us Weekly also had a notably high number of digital editions, reporting digital circulations of 74,790 and 61,106, respectively, each totaling about 3 percent of the titles’ total circulation.

While overall magazine circulation is doing better than in recent years, newsstand sales—which make up a relatively small part of overall circulation but are seen as an important barometer by the advertising community of consumer demand—continue to decline sharply.

Total paid and verified circulation was flat for the six months ending in June 2012 on a 1 percent uptick in paid subscriptions, an improvement from the 1 percent and 1.4 percent total circ declines in the previous two six-month reporting periods. However, single-copy sales dropped 9.6 percent in the first half of the year, after having fallen 10 percent and 9.2 percent in the previous two periods.


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