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Growing Digital Sales a Bright Spot for Magazines

Mirroring the trend with books, magazine readers are migrating to digital, offsetting sluggish demand for print copies, the New York Times reports.

Magazines continued to struggle with sales of subscriptions and newsstand copies in the first half of 2013, but they made inroads in selling digital editions, according to data released on Tuesday.

Total paid and verified subscriptions declined by 1 percent in the first half of 2013, and newsstand sales, which are often an indicator of a magazine’s appeal, dropped by 10 percent. Both declines were similar to the overall trend in the same period a year ago.

That data, compiled by the Alliance for Audited Media, show the newer format is a still- tiny but fast-growing part of the market.

 Digital replica editions — which replicate the format of the print editions — now make up 3.3 percent of total magazine circulation, with 10.2 million digital replica editions sold in the first half of 2013. During the same time period in 2012, magazines sold 5.4 million digital editions, which made up 1.7 percent of circulation.

Women’s magazines are among the best examples of the trend toward digital. Newsstand sales fell for Cosmopolitan, 23.9 percent;  Glamour, 28.8 percent; and O, The Oprah Magazine, 22.7 percent. But the New York Times quotes Hearst as noting that, “Cosmopolitan grew by 33 percent, to 246,815 digital subscribers, and O grew 22 percent, to 99,412 digital subscribers.”