updated 06:40 pm EDT, Thu March 29, 2012
Paid digital circulation continues to expand
Digital magazine circulation has reportedly doubled in the second half of 2011, reaching 3.29 million from 1.46 million in the same period in 2010, according to data collected by trade group Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC). Digital sales still represent a fraction of total publishing, however, taking one percent share in a market that is still dominated by print circulation.
Despite the comparatively low numbers of digital sales compared to print, several specific titles have showed a contrasting trend. Maxim's paid digital circulation has surged from an average of 41,000 in the second half of 2011 to 110,000 by the end of January, according to an AdAge report.
Maxim's paid digital distribution still pales in comparison to free copies available promotionally, with just 24 percent of digital copies resulting in direct income. Another publisher, Hearst Magazines, is reportedly set to top one million in digital circulation, without the help of sponsored circulation.
"Part of the good news here is that paid digital for us is growing very quickly," said Hearst executive VP and general manager John Loughlin.
Many publishers have embraced the iPad and other tablet platforms for digital distribution. Some publishers had squabbled with Apple over subscriber data and profit sharing terms, though Hearst CEO David Carey recently admitted that Apple's 30 percent cut is actually less than the 45 percent cut taken by most newsstand distributors.