Magazine Figures Show A Troubling Future

I came across an article on the net that reported that newsstand sales for the first half of the year declined by 10 percent, according to figures released last week. It would appear that the inevitable decline in magazine circulation at the hands of the prominence of online media has hit the US hard. Since the US seem to lead trends all over the world, could the same fate befall our own here in Mzansi? 

Not everyone wallowing in despair though, it is reported that Vogue March cover which had Beyoncé looking all regal outsold an exclusive interview in April with Michelle Obama, 355,397 to 293,798, a difference of about 60,000 copies, digital replicas included. Queen Bey still pulls the numbers

However 355,397 is a dismal number considering that the United States has a population of over 150 million people and celebrity culture there seem so insane. 

Nicki Minaj is said to be a cover poison. Appearing on the April cover of Elle and in Teen Vogue in June-July, she sold the second fewest number of copies for both.

Here at home the magazine industry has not fared well either. 

While DRUM celebrated in 2011 when figures from the Audit Bureau of Circulation (ABC) for the last quarter of year showed the publication triumphant with a 7% rise in circulation -- jumping from 129 317 in 2010, to 138 479 at the end of 2011, the party did not last long as figures for the last quarter at the same period showed a decline in its circulation. 

Drum is still the biggest-selling magazine aimed at the black market in South Africa and the third largest magazine in South Africa after Huisgenoot and YOU.

The ABC Q3 figures of circulation statistics for the period October 2012 to December 2012 showed:


  • Destiny - from 30,082 to 27,822  
  • Glamour - from 79,601 to 71,096  
  • Move - from 136,766 to 113,500  
  • Soul - from 46,959 - 38,508 
  • True Love - from 81,963 to 68,146 
  • GQ – from 30,036 to 28,084 . 
  • Men’s Health – from 66,828 to 61,663 

  • Cosmo - from 81,406 to 86,885  
  • Elle - from 38,891 to 43,820  
  • Fair Lady - from 48,789 to 57,522  
  • Grazia - from 20,745 to 23,182   
  • Marie Claire - from 37,439 to 41,137  (but 11 000 copies were free) 
  • Real magazine - from 50,890 to 54,055 
  • Playboy - from 12,428 to 13,309 
In Trouble

Poor FHM is just one foot in the grave – it fell to 29,382 from 38,873 (and 37,444 in the 2012). In 2005 it was selling 117,365 copies per issue. Now that is a steep decline!!

Not a good year for Entertainment Mags, are blogs to blame?

People kept steady at around 85,978 and Bona was up slightly to 97,190 from 95,261

But the rest are DOWN;
  • Heat – from 31,753 to 27,945  . 
  • TV Plus (Afrikaans) from 41,551 to 37,667  
  • TV Plus (English) - from 48,211 to 41,889 . 
  • Drum - from 138,479 to 118,793  and 
  • Huisgenoot - from 283, 270,310  
  • YOU - from 172,403 to 155,125  
What the figures indicate is that publication aimed at the black market are still faring better than their counterpart. However a general overview of the circulation margins is alarmingly unsettling. The Top 10 Magazines in South Africa at that time are:

1. Huisgenoot 270,310 
2. YOU 155,125 
3. Drum 118,793
4. Move 113,500 
5. Rooi Rose 112,381 
6. Woman and Home 100,310 
7. Bona 97,190
8. Kuier 94,926
9. Sarie 93,473 
10. Ideas/Idees 91,905

Face it, magazine circulation needs all the help it can get. If you were thinking of launching your own magazine maybe you might have to rethink that idea.

We await to see how the magazines will fair in the last quarter of 2013.  

NB: Please not that figures are released quarterly throughout the year but for the purpose of this article I only made a comparison of the figures between the same period of the last quarter of 2011 and 2012. 

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