The circulation figures for the first six months of 2014 are out (http://www.pressgazette.co.uk/uk-magazines-ranked-total-paid-circulation-first-half-2014-0), and surprise, surprise, people are buying fewer magazines, although some still have a healthy readership. What may come as a surprise is that the top three highest selling magazines are TV listings mags!
The reason circulation figures are important is because the more readers a publication has, the more it can charge its advertisers. So, you might think that Take A Break magazine pays a lot of money out for its letter pages and real life stories, but that’s because, with a circulation of 657,282 issues EVERY WEEK, they can charge their advertisers a lot of money. (Especially when Take A Break also claim that every single copy is read by three people.)
Why should writers consider circulation figures? Well, we shouldn’t get hung up on them, but they can be a useful pointer when it comes to payment. The higher the circulation figures, the more money it can afford to pay its writers (in theory). When I’ve sold short stories to Take A Break, they’ve paid several hundred pounds, but The Weekly News pays a lot less (less than a hundred), but when you see it has a circulation figure of 26,486, that’s a lot less than Take A Break’s circulation. Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule.
They can also make interesting reading. For example, more people buy The People’s Friend than Psychologies, Harpers Bazaar, delicious and Tatler added together.
And it’s interesting to note that digital versions of magazines aren’t really taking off just at the moment, although some publications, such as the Economist, seem to be generating a regular electronic readership.
Mind you - I wonder how these circulation figures are influenced by writers buying copies for analysis and market research purposes!
Some magazine quote their latest ABC (Audit of the Bureau of Circulation) figures on their contents pages. It’s worth looking out for it, so you have an idea as to how many people might read your article, should you succeed in getting it published in the publication.