February 24, 2016 Last Updated 7:30 am

Magazines discount heavily on Amazon, as December circulation statements begin to trickle in

Morning Brief: The December 2015 publisher’s statements are starting to appear, and a number show continued weakness in newsstand sales, as well as digital edition sales

The last two weeks one cannot help but notice the number of magazines being severely discounted inside Amazon.com’s Today’s Deals section. That a magazine might offer a discounted subscription rate to boost readership, or lure new readers, is nothing new – it is, in fact, business as usual. But it was still surprising to see so many familiar titles being offered a giveaway prices.


One has to wonder what the newest publisher’s statements might look like then. Most magazines have still not reported their numbers, with the June 2015 statement still the latest one can look at. But some publishers have submitted their numbers and, for the most part, the numbers are not good with both newsstand and digital edition sales falling, and in some cases verified circulation rising.

For those looking at the latest reports from the Alliance for Audited Media for the first time, be prepared for a shock, as the standard look of the reports has changed drastically. Publisher’s statements now look more like spreadsheets, thought the same data is still be found there. But instead of standard six page report, meant for viewing in print form, the new report offers publishers and ad people a two page report meant for reading on their PCs.

The goal, of course, is to be able to present customized cross-media brand information as publishers are branching out beyond just wanting to report print publication numbers. One recent change, for instance, is that the AAM has created a new circulation category called “Multi-Title Digital Programs” for unlimited-access digital magazine newsstands such as the Texture app from Next Issue Media. We will first see the new category in the June 2016 reports which will start becoming available late this year.

As for those heavily discounted magazines inside Amazon.com, I wouldn’t necessarily read too much into it. As mentioned already, magazines discount all the time. But when all the reports are finally submitted, I think we are going to see a number of titles look in desperate shape.

Sad to hear the news of the death of Peter Mondavi. He was 101 years old.

Peter is probably less well known outside of California these days than his brother Robert, who owned the Robert Mondavi Winery and was very visible to the public. But it was the two brothers together who convinced their father to buy the the Charles Krug Winery in 1943. The winery had been founded in the early days of the Napa Valley wine industry, but had fallen into disrepair. But prohibition had been ended with the election of FDR in 1932, and the brothers felt that the nation was ready once again for quality wines.

Eventually the brothers had a falling out and Robert left to establish his own winery. Legal disputes ensued and for a while it looked like the Charles Krug Winery would fail. But the irony of the tale is that it was Robert who sold out to Constellation Brands in 2004, and the Charles Krug Winery remains under Mondavi family ownership to this day.

You can find a very nice obituary for Peter Mondavi this morning in The New York Times. There was also a report on SFGate.com, the website for the Hearst owned San Francisco Chronicle, but I would not recommend going to that website without an ad blocker installed, so obnoxious are their pop-up ads.

  • Sean McKenna 8 months ago

    Deeply discounting price typically devalues a product. Even if this strategy lures new readers what is the likelihood that they would be willing to continue when offered ‘normal’ subscription rates. Furthermore, doesn’t that provide an opportunity for existing subscribers, who would be willing to pay regular rates, to get the deep discount as well. If ad revenue is dropping, and subscription rates are deeply discounted, where is revenue generated?