Friday, 22 March 2013

Photographic Magazines: Circulation Figures

I had not realised what dire straits photographic magazines were in until I read a remark by William Cheung in Advanced Photographer. He said that from a circulation of 100,000 copies in the 1980s, sales of Amateur Photographer had fallen to just under 19,000. Intrigued, I investigated further and found the circulation figures for most, if not all, of the current UK magazines for 2012 together with the change over six months and year-on-year.

Magazine sales in general continue to fall. On average, the circulation of all photographic magazines fell by 7.9% year-on-year. Of those for which I could find figures, the worst performing was Digital Photo (-22.4% year-on-year). Then came Practical Photography (-20.2%), Digital Photographer (-17.6%), What Digital Camera (-15.5%), Photo Plus (-8.6%), Amateur Photographer (-8.1%), Digital Camera Magazine (-8%), Photography Monthly (-6.7%), Digital SLR Photography (-3.5%). Of these, of course, Amateur Photographer is the only weekly, with sales of 17,200 for each issue — even lower than William Cheung had indicated. Of the monthlies, Digital Camera Magazine was selling the most with 39,460.

Certainly, when I have looked at some of these magazines, the quality has seemed pretty dire. Digital Photographer, I thought, started fairly well but the quality has declined. Practical Photography, when I looked at it a couple of months ago, was really poor. Other readers must think the same given the marked decreases in circulation.

What happens next will be interesting. Will there be attempts by publishers to launch new titles in the hope of making a niche, as with Advanced Photographer? Or shall we see titles folding in what is an overcrowded market? Ot both? 

The demographics must worry the publishers. The average age of the reader of Amateur Photographer is 52 and 93% of its readers are male; for Practical Photography, it is aged 48 and 86% male. The male bias is to be expected but does the 7% female readership represent a spillover from the days Amateur Photographer was known by the female in this house as Amateur Pornographer?