A blog on issues affecting Australia's newsagents, media and small business generally.

Audited figures for digital magazines highlight an impact for newsagents

The latest issue of Circulation Management is reporting US ABC audited circulation data for business and consumer titles and there are some interesting results.

PC Magazine Digital-only subs of 119,771 for 2004 compared to 19,256 in 2003. Total qualified circulation in 2004 was 926,276 compared to 968,274 in 2003. Most of the digital edition growth has been achieved without cannibalising the print edition.

Cosmo Girl! Digital-only subs of 80,356 for 2004 compared to 41,076 in 2003. Total qualified circulation in 2004 was 1,380,320 compared to 1,365,735 in 2003.

Barrons Digital-only subs of 1,617 for 2004 compared to 725 in 2003. Total qualified circulation in 2004 was 300,040 compared to 295,706 in 2003.

Circulation Management lists the TOP 15 titles. I have chose these three to demonstrate diversity of titles and the significant growth achieved between them. There have been a couple of falls but there are reasons for that.

Remember, this is data from 2004. With the significant enhancements to digital delivery of magazine content this year and stronger competition between the platform players one could reasonably expect digital only circulation to rise. They have been focusing on improving the consumer experience and the results are stunning.

The growth in Cosmo Girl! is particularly interesting but not that surprising given that it’s from the demographic more attuned to computer and wireless delivery than most.

Digital delivery is yet another space to watch for newsagents and others in the news and information supply chain – particularly in the fringe subject area, titles outside the top, say, 200. My feeling is that the small and independent publishers will move to the digital model faster than mainstream publishers because of cost savings. For a fraction of today’s real world costs, they can get professionally presented content including paid advertising into subscriber hands.

While the newsagent distribution model puts titles in front of prospective consumers, it comes with a cost. With newsagents pressuring on returns achieved from their expensive retail real estate, the metric for small publishers could swing with them forsaking eyes for dramatically lower circulation costs.

Newsagents, publishers and distributors ought to be talking about these issues and navigating their way, co-operatively, though the changes digital delivery and other technology changes are bringing to the channel.


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