Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The media world frets about declining newsstand sales for magazines and down play gains seen in digital editions

The numbers that came out of the Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) certainly grabbed the attention of many media watchers: newsstand sales of magazine titles fell nearly ten percent, though overall the report was not nearly so bad (circulation overall was essentially flat).

While the New York Post headline Keith Kelly's story Newsstand nightmare, his story blandly recounted the numbers: total paid subscriptions grew one percent to 260 million, not really too bad considering the state of the economy.

Most reports failed to even mention the loss of newsstands across the country. The collapse of Borders, one of the largest sellers of magazines in many communities, has already been relegated to the history books, despite the fact that many stores are still seen, sad and empty, on street corners across the country.

For, the story was that digital replica editions only make "a tiny sliver" of total magazine sales. The absurd headline takes the only good news from the ABC reports and turns it on its head: 5.4 million digital editions were counted in this report compared to just 2 million in the last – and this figure only reflects the 258 magazines that are now reporting their digital numbers according to ABC rules.

Missing from the list of top magazines selling digital replica editions was any magazines from Time Inc. which only recently began selling subscriptions inside the Apple Newsstand. But the top listed magazines did show impressive digital sales with Game Informer Magazine leading all magazines in reporting digital replica sales (over 1.2 million), while more traditional best sellers like Maxim, Cosmopolitan and National Geographic are at the top of the list, as well.

It should be noted that each of the top digital sellers are located in the Apple Newsstand and are selling subscriptions through their apps – going against the advice offered by many leading media gurus who advised publishers to avoid working with Apple.