August 7, 2014 Last Updated 9:32 am

AAM Snapshot report of U.S. consumer magazines shows effect of distributor closing

Digital editions growth doubles year-over-year, with digital editions now accounting for 3.8 percent of total circulation of AAM audited magazines

The latest Snapshot report from the Alliance of Audited Media (AAM) for U.S. consumer magazines shows that total paid and verified circulation fell 1.9 percent, with single-copy sales falling 11.9 percent. Much of the declines are likely attributable to the closing of distributor Source Interlink.

Digital editions showed good growth, with digital replica editions now accounting for 3.9 percent of total circulation of magazines reporting through the AAM, up from 3.3 in the same period last year.

It is especially important to note that digital-only magazines are generally not audited by the AAM and so would be missing from the report – though it is also true that digital-only magazines have far smaller reach than do print titles. This means the total size of the digital magazine industry is a bit hard to gauge. Also, the AAM report, while listing the top digital replica editions, does not issue a comparison report at this time.

The latest report shows that overall most magazines recorded modest gains or declines in circulation. But several titles were hit hard. Readers’s Digest, for instance, now has a paid circ of just under 3.4 million, while last year it reported 5.2 million in paid circulation, a decrease of 35 percent. National Geographic, too, fell hard, losing over 10 percent of its circulation in the latest report.

The digital circulation report shows can be a frustrating area to report on as many consumer magazines now are reporting larger digital circulation levels, while some magazines that have had digital editions for a while are actually reporting declines in digital circulation. American Media’s SHAPE, for instance, is now reporting nearly 300,000 in digital replica circulation, yet only reported around 60,000 a year ago. Wired, on the other hand, reported only a very modest bump in its digital readership, while Maxim looks to have lost digital circulation.

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The AAM also reports on Canadian consumer magazines and here the declines were slightly higher, with overall paid and verified circulation down 4.8 percent for the first half of 2014. Here, too, a distributor, Benjamin News, closed down earlier this year.

The Canadian English edition of Reader’s Digest fell 28.6 percent in the latest report, with few magazine titles able to report paid circulation gains – Moneysense being an exception, with its circulation rising 12 percent in the latest report. Moneysense is now reporting 25,010 in digital replica circulation, making it the second highest digital circulation magazine, just behind Chalelaine, which remains Canada’s largest circulation consumer magazine with 534,294 paid circulation in the latest report.

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