August 6, 2015 Last Updated 5:39 am

Overall US magazine circulation declines slightly in latest AAM Snapshot report

A small decline for magazines is probably good news, knowing the problems many publishers are having with newsstand sales, but digital seems stuck in neutral

There thousands of little stories to be found inside the latest Snapshot report from the Alliance of Audited Media (AAM). The takeaway will be the picture from above, looking at the industry as a whole: total US circulation for magazines is down slightly, about 2.2 percent. That’s to be expected as newsstand sales are dropping.

As for the individual stories, there are many and it will take a while to dig some of them out. But I wanted to look at a few titles I have been following for a while.

Cosmo-cover-300At Hearst’s Cosmopolitan, single copy sales continue to slide, down another 7 or 8 percent since their last publisher’s statement (OK, 7.8 percent if you must be precise). It is the big sales titles that are showing the biggest declines, because they are on all the newsstands and are the most dependent on single copy sales. But sales of digital are also down, over 20 percent. Why? My guess is that this is from Apple’s Newsstand, but the report doesn’t give that kind of detail.

What about Martha Stewart Living, which is now the responsibility of Meredith? Meredith took a perfectly good native digital edition and made it into a replica. I’ve heard the reason is that this is Next Issue Media, but that makes no sense to me since not all Next Issue digital editions are replicas – many are hybrids, where the print ads are as seen in print but the editorial content is reformatted for digital device.

One would expect an immediate bump for MSL now that it is inside Next Issue and that seems to be the case, with digital copies going from about 55K to over 75K. Again, no details are in the Snapshot that breaks that out but you can be pretty sure the title will report a big gain in digital single copy sales with its next publisher’s statement.

Of course, Meredith continues to have one of the best success stories going with Allrecipes, which has bumped its rate base up several times since its launch and now has set it at 1.1 million.

But do the gains stick and increase? That’s an interesting question. One title that went from using the Mag+ platform to the Adobe DPS went it entered the Next Issue newsstand was Bonnier’s Popular Science. It’s digital increased to 118,204 in the latest report, up slightly from the December Publisher’s Statement, and again up from December 2013. But the numbers are pretty stable, which tells me that the growth is in single copy digital, not subscriptions. Was it worth the move?

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