Digital magazines boom too little to grow overall sales

UK digital magazine circulation has doubled already this year. That is growth typical of a new digital segment – but it’s still nowhere near enough to stop magazine circulation as a whole continuing to slide.

Latest ABC (UK) data shows digital editions of consumer magazines clocked up a total 185,210 in average monthly circulation during the first half of this year…

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But, across print and digital, the UK’s top 100 consumer magazines lost three percent of their average monthly actively-purchased circulation…

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Magazines have lost lost a third of their readers in the last seven years. Digital editions’ circulation makes up just 0.73 percent of the total. That is less than half the U.S. equivalent, as reported earlier this week, which is also small.

What growth digital magazines have shown is partly down to the growing number of publishers starting digital editions for the first time. From publishing data on just 15 digital editions in its first disclosure on the new segment in mid-2011, the ABC now counts 61 titles.

The UK’s most popular digital-replica magazine is Hearst’s Cosmopolitan, with 13,298 sales. The poorest is Kane’s Front, with just 52.

In truth, Future’s gadget mag T3 is the country’s most-sold digital magazine with 17,682 downloads. The title is a full-fledged interactive app rather than a digital replica and is excluded from the above digital replica category. Today, it became the first to report digital circulation using a new ABC certificate for such channels.

T3‘s success ahead of the pack may suggest that what consumers want is not necessarily a printed magazine repackaged for tablets but a new kind of experience. But the reason may also be that gadget fans are naturally more likely to gravitate toward using iPads.