Digital Magazine Sales Up, According to Study

Pew report shows single-copy digital magazine sales increase by 30%; digital subscriptions climb, as well

Digital magazine sales surveyed among 14 of the top magazine publishers are skyrocketing on a single-copy level, according to a recent Pew Research Center study. Year-over-year website traffic is on the rise, as well, reports.

The study included such magazines as The Atlantic, Bloomberg Businessweek, The Economist, Forbes, Fortune, National Review, The Nation, New York, The New Yorker, Rolling Stone, Time, The Week, Wired and Vanity Fair.


Digital magazine sales are up 30%, with more than 12.7 million copies sold in 2015. That tops the 9.7 copies sold in 2014, and the 5 million sold in 2013. Prior to that year, the data is not as reliable.

To wit:

“In terms of digital magazine sales, Pew Research Center pointed out that it is difficult to track sales accurately over time because new delivery platforms like Next Issue Media’s Texture, Readly, Magzter Gold and mobile apps are consistently changing the subscription magazine landscape. Pew Research Center reported these trends: Single copy sales for digital issues increased an average of 30 percent to more than 12,000 average sales per magazine title; New York Magazine had 64 percent growth with about 17,000 new sales; Bloomberg Businessweek grew by 54 percent; Rolling Stone had growth of 35 percent with just over 8,000 new sales on average; Vanity Fair, Time and Fortune had average increases of above 30 percent each,” Dana E. Neuts writes.

“Pew said some of the growth in this area is because of services like Texture and Magzter Gold which offer their subscribers unlimited digital access to the publications with whom they have relationships. Sales from such services compromise more than 95 percent of digital single copy sales, rather than single copy sales from other sources like Google Play or the App Store.”


Perhaps even better news for online publishers, if only because it’s potentially more sustainable, is that digital magazine subscriptions are steadily rising.

“Digital subscriptions rose 6 percent, or an average of about 36,000 new subscribers per magazine. While these are encouraging figures, digital subscriptions still only make up about 4 percent of total subscriptions. The Atlantic and New York Magazine had the highest increases at 60 percent each, with Bloomberg Businessweek following closely at 57 percent,” Neuts writes.

“To measure online traffic, Pew Research Center worked with comScore. According to the data for 12 of the magazines (The Nation and Bloomberg Business were not included), more people are visiting news magazine sites online, but they are spending less time on them than in 2014. In the fourth quarter of 2014, the average number of monthly unique visitors was about 13 million monthly visitors. Seven of the 12 sites had traffic increases of at least 10 percent in 2015 compared to 2014. The data also showed that mobile traffic is growing in popularity. Mobile traffic for 10 of the 12 sites increased, while desktop traffic only grew for five of the 12 news magazine sites.”

Do your single-copy digital magazine sales reflect the Pew’s findings, or are they too good to be true? Let us know in the comments!

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