Magazine Newsstand Sales Fall, But Digital May Be Lifting Overall Circ

While the publishing world is falling all over itself to make its newspapers and magazines print pubs as accessible on the major mobile and tablet devices, the industry doesn’t have much to show for it yet, according to the latest Audit Bureau of Circulation figures for magazines. However, a look at how much weaker newsstand sales are versus subscriptions and total verified paid copies, shows that it’s possible that digital could be having some small boost generally.

Digital version sales figures were not broken out, but are included in ABC’s three main categories: Total Paid & Verified Circulation (1.36 percent), Total Paid Subscriptions (down 0.34 percent) and Total Single-Copy Sales (down 9.15 percent) for 418 titles for the first half of the year.

The real concern is newsstand sales, while the total circ and subscriptions narrowed past losses, suggests that there may be some benefit to selling single copies and subscriptions across digital devices. Still, it’s all a bit early to say, but the trend lines seem pretty clear.

There were some odd bright spots amid the general declines. For example, TV Guide’s verified circ shot up 695 percent, while Bloomberg Businessweek, which fell 34 percent in single-copy sales, saw verified circ jump by 19 percent. Perhaps it’s a sign that subscribers and iPad users have liked the new look and feel of the title since leaving McGraw Hill.

This past spring, the *ABC* tweaked the requirements for counting sales of a digital magazine in the U.S. and Canada toward a title’s circ. Namely, the editorial and photography still have to be the same in the print and digital versions, but the ad placements don’t have to mirror a title’s ink and paper editions, offering publishers greater flexibility in terms of what counts.