It's so hard to believe that the iPad is less than three years old. But in that short amount of time, tablets have not only become a way of life, but they have also radically shifted how users choose to get their news. Print, as we have all heard, is rapidly becoming a thing of the past.
If you want even more evidence that print really is dying, all you have to do is look to the Alliance for Audited Media's most recent report on circulation data for magazines in 2012.
In the second half of 2012, 289 magazines reported over 7.9 million sales of digital editions, or 2.4% of the total circulation for the industry. That is roughly 60% higher than 3.2 million digital editions, reported by 245 magazines, for the second half of 2011. Almost 65% of magazines now offer digital editions as part of their circulation.
The biggest drops
In the six month period, the magazine industry saw overall circulation decrease by 0.3%.
Some of the magazines that saw the biggest circulation drops in the second half of the year were American Legion Magazine, which lost 1.5%; Glamour, which lost 1.3%; and National Geographic, which went down 7.9%. Woman's Day lost a whopping 13.2% of its circulation.
The biggest problem for the industry, though, are single copy sales, which went down 8.2%. In fact, some very well known magazines wound up losing sales in the double digits, including Cosmopolitan, whose sales went down 18.5%.
People lost 12.2%, In Touch Weekly lost 14.8%, US Weekly lost 14.6%, Glamour lost 14.5%, Life and Style lost 19.1%, Star Magazine lost 21% and All You lost 34.7% of its single copy sales.
Time magazine lost 23.3% of its single copy sales, while its circulation went down 0.5%.
Now, I don't want to make it seem like all the news for the magazine industry was bad. Paid subcriptions during the period went up 0.7% and some magazines actually saw circulation increase, including Game Informer, which went up 4.7%; O, The Oprah Magazine, which went up 2.5%; and Family Circle, which saw a 7% increase in circulation.
Some even saw their single copy sales rise, including Food Network Magazine, up 10.4%; Women's Health, which went up 9.2% and O, which went up 0.6%.
Interestingly, Woman's Day, while losing so much of its circulation, saw its single copy sales shoot up 14.4%.
But things are definitely not going in the right direction for the magazine industry as a whole with this current model.
The future of magazines
While some magazines did see some good news, it is clear from the rise of digital subcriptions, and the spiral of single copy sales, that many of them will have to go the way of Newsweek, simply in order to save themselves from going out of business.
After nearly 80 years in print, Newsweek put out its last print edition on December 31st 2012. The magazine announced in October that it would be switching over to an all-digital format as part of The Daily Beast. Since 2005, the magazine’s circulation has been cut in half to about 1.5 million while advertising pages have fallen off a cliff. With annual losses reaching $40 million, it became clear that Newsweek had reached the end of the line.
In conjunction with the doubling of digital editions, tablet sales also shot up in 2012, increasing by 150% in 2012, according to a Pew Internet & American Life Project report from December. The study found that fully 25% of American adults now own a tablet of some kind. One in three owns either a tablet or an e-reader.
By comparison, at the same time in 2010, only 9% of American adults owned either a tablet or an e-reader.
With both tablet sales and digital subscriptions more than doubling in 2012, and single copy sales taking such an enormous hit, the writing is clearly on the wall for the magazine industry.
(Image source: http://www.livincool.com)