The Magazine Circulation Decline

Media observers are still reeling the day after the semi-annual report by The Audit Bureau of Circulations, which compares newsstand sales and subscriptions from the second half of 2007 with the same period last year. Portfolio’s Jeff Bercovici called the figures a ”massacre out there on the news stand.” From Folio:

”Among the top 25 magazines in terms of total paid and verified circulation, only AARP (with a membership-based paid circulation of 23.4 million for its bimonthly magazine) showed an increase of more than two percent over the second half of 2006. Time (-17.57%) Playboy (-10.04%) and Reader’s Digest (-7.64%) all showed significant drops in overall circulation.”

National news weeklies, which recently raised their cover prices, were not immune. From Eric Sass of MediaDailyNews:

”Time Inc.’s flagship title saw newsstand sales fall 19.4% to 107,277, as subscriptions tumbled 17.5% to 3,244,595. Overall, circulation fell 17.6% to 3,351,872.

”In November 2006, Time cut its rate base 18.8% to 3.25 million, so the decline in subscriptions may be due partly to a purge of ‘junk’ circulation, including automatically renewed subscriptions. But it’s hard to put a good spin on the steep drop in newsstand sales, which advertisers often view as an indicator of audience engagement.”

Some good news, from The New York Times, ”The biggest increase among major magazines was for Every Day With Rachael Ray, which jumped 67 percent from the second half of 2006, to almost 1.7 million.”