The downward trajectory of consumer magazine circulation appears to have slowed in the first half of the year. While publishers weren’t able to muster the slightly positive growth that ad pages have had lately—the Publishers Information Bureau recorded its first increase in ad pages and rates after two negative years last month—but as mags rely more on paid circ to pay the bills, these numbers are becoming more crucial. So far, paid circ is becoming more stable, but newsstand sales are struggling much harder.
One interesting note from this article is a subtle change in how newsstand sales are reported for publishers. It’s here that they have seen the hardest hits with regard to numbers but there attempt to raise those numbers is focused on online versions of the magazines.
Over the past six months, a few publishers, notably Conde Nast, have gotten approval from the ABC to include digital replicas of their mags sold through apps on the iPad or iPhone to be counted toward newsstand sales. It’ll take a while until those sales become meaningful, but titles like Wired have had a pretty good start.
That makes sense since the nature of delivery of magazines is changing. Where there is a difference is with companies like Hearst who are not taking this tact because they are not offering replicas of their mags for the online space. They are trying to differentiate the offerings so they are not delivering the same content as the hard copies of their titles.
All in all, at least there may be some hope regarding the magazines industry’s woes. We all understand that what goes up must come down but how far down can this industry go?
What are your thoughts on magazines? Will the online world make them obsolete or is that just something to write about in blogs? Do you still have a favorite magazine that you actually hold in your hand on a weekly or monthly basis? Would you change over to the electronic version only if you absolutely had to?