US magazine readership stable amid digital shift

February 7, 2013
Clients look at magazines in a bookshop on February 7, 2013. US magazines managed to hold circulation nearly steady in the second half of 2012 as more readers turned to digital editions, an industry report showed.

US magazines managed to hold circulation nearly steady in the second half of 2012 as more readers turned to digital editions, an industry report showed Thursday.

The Alliance for Audited Media, formerly known as the Audit Bureau of Circulations, said total paid and verified circulation for the 402 major US magazines decreased 0.3 percent from a year earlier.

Paid were up 0.7 percent, while single-copy sales decreased 8.2 percent, according to the alliance, which counts both digital and in circulation data.

The report said 289 magazines had more than 7.9 million digital replica editions, or 2.4 percent of the total industry circulation in the last six months of 2012.

"Nearly 65 percent of magazines that filed this period have digital replica editions as part of total circulation," said a posting by the alliance's Neal Lulofs.

The number of digital copies sold has more than doubled from a year earlier, when 245 magazines reported 3.2 million digital replica copies, or less than one percent of the total.

Among key titles, Reader's Digest circulation declined 0.6 percent but remained among the top magazines at 5.5 million. Time Magazine saw a 0.5 percent drop to 3.28 million.

The largest circulation belonged to AARP's magazine for retirees, at 22.7 million, while the biggest digital edition was Game Informer, which covers the videogame sector, with 2.3 million.

For single-copy sales, women's publication Cosmopolitan was on top with 1.19 million, but that was a drop of 18.5 percent from a year earlier.

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