This is about the time that circulation managers are polishing up their returns to send off to the ABC and if the recent retail trends are anything to go by, there will need to be an interesting range of techniques employed to put any sort of positive spin on the figures.
Dropping into Private Frazer’s inbox is Seymour Distribution‘s report on Quarter 1 newsstand sales. This covers the whole market, not just the titles that Seymour represents, and it indicates a year on year drop of nearly 14% in sales volumes. That means that newsstand is down by over a third since the beginning of 2009.
And the carnage seems to be pretty much across the board: women’s titles are down by 14% year on year, motoring is off 10%, computing over 20%, men’s interest over 25%.
There are no bright points among the gloom. If you aren’t a long way down a strategic route to offset the decline in print, then really, honestly, truly, you’re probably too late.
Private Frazer was away last week on the sun-drenched beaches of North Uist so has only just got round to looking at the ABC release of the July-December circulation figures.
Appropriately for a report that came out on February 14th, publishers have suffered an absolute massacre. What to pick out from the jewels at the bottom of the vat of red ink?
One could point at Reader’s Digest which saw 138,000 copies fall away over the year (that’s over a third of its 2011 circulation); or Bauer, whose easy-going owners are no doubt blase about losses of 15%, 20% and 40% respectively for Closer, Heat and More.
Hearst’s printers too will have more capacity on their presses as Cosmo drops 69,000 copies, Reveal sheds 67,000, Company loses 59,000 and Best takes a 40,000 circulation bath.
Or should we laud Immediate, who have managed to take massive hits on four of their biggest brands – Good Food, Top Gear, Gardeners World and Radio Times are all over 30,000 copies down.
No, this time the prize has to go to Northern and Shell with three stellar performances: over 107,000 lost from each of Star and New!, and a 46,000 drop for OK! A quarter of a million copies an issue gone, like the memories of better days.
If any more indication was needed that next week’s ABC figures are going to be brutally bad. it can be found in the news that the PPA are going to release combined print and digital figures on the same day as the official returns.
Of course this will be entirely unbiased, objective and beyond reproach. How could a set of figures produced by a body funded by the industry and designed to prop up advertising revenues for titles that are struggling to survive fail to be otherwise?
Prepare yourselves for the good news PR onslaught as every single UK publisher trumpets their great success.
Oh, the joy of being in an industry that is doing so, so well!
Private Frazer was away last week, knocking over wee bairns on the slopes around the pretty Austrian village of Schadenfreude, so missed the publication of the latest ABC figures.
It seems that as I sipped the gluhwein, the UK publishing industry has been experiencing black runs of its own, with descents so precipitous they would make Franz Klammer blanch.
There are stand out performances across the board, and it seems almost unfair to single out individual companies. Almost.
Oh dear, how is the PPA going to be able to spin the next set of ABC results?
This time round they used the free circulations of customer magazines to claim “continued growth in the demand for magazines”, even though the demand for magazines that people actually buy continues to decline precipitously.
This morning’s news is that Sky is to axe Sky Sports Magazine and Sky Movies Magazine (with a combined circulation of nearly eight million copies) and reduce the frequency of Sky magazine (ABC of 7.3 million) from monthly to quarterly. (more…)
An exciting wee chart in PaidContent, showing the decline in magazine sales over the past decade. The bairns over there correlate this fall to the point where the interweb achieved popular lift off; up to a point Lord Copper, but Private Frazer would draw your attention to a couple of other seismic shifts.
The first is hubris - publishing companies’ belief that they could launch any old tat, increase cover prices way beyond inflation, pack titles with content that kept advertisers on side (and forming whole new divisions to come up with ‘creative (sic) solutions’), and reduce the numbers of people putting the titles together (boosting instead the number of management and sales staff). In the first part of the decade the sense that magazine publishing companies were able to defy gravity was palpable – ‘sod the readers, count the money’. (more…)