Thursday, August 07, 2014

Slump in paid-for sales reported in Magazines Canada cultural magazine benchmarking study

Magazines Canada has published a new benchmarks study about the cultural magazines, based on grant applications to the Canada Council, with data from the 2012 funding round, covering 72 English titles and 32 French titles. Total revenue for the magazines is about $14.4 million, spread over about half a million print copies (519,851). The number of copies were down 19.5% from  the last benchmark study in 2010.
"This constitutes a dramatic drop in paid-for sales," say the authors, "which, after some sleuthing, turns out to be accountable to two factors: the loss of titles in the program and a fall in non-subscription sales for English-language magazines."
The estimate is that, on average, there are 1.56 million readers reached, 1.2 million by English titles and 360,000 in French. Paid subscription copies reach over 80,000, 66,000 in English and 14,000 in French. Single copy sales are 40,000, 30,000 of which are English and 11,000 for French. 

The data was compiled in a collaboration among the Canada Council for the Arts, Simon Fraser University, Rowland Lorimer and Stephen Osborne, the editor of Geist.


There are about 240 full-time-equivalent jobs, averaging about $35,000 a year, in the almost wholly literary and cultural titles analyzed. 
About half of those jobs (111) involved editorial work. In addition, e-titles generated an estimated 12 FTE jobs. Translated into magazine actualities, this represents an estimated involvement in the order of 600 to 700 full- and part-time paid employees in addition to unnumbered volunteers involved in creative work.
Revenues are:

  • Sales to readers: $2.1 million (15%)
  • Advertising sales: $2.3 million (16%)
  • Other earned revenue $0.9 million (7%)
  • Donations: $1.3 million (9%)
  • Grants: $7.7 million (53%)
  • Total earned and donated: $6.7 million (47%)
The research shows that for every page of content for which purchasers pay $0.09, costs are $455 a page for English language publications and $418 a page for French. 

The Canada Council provides a fifth of the grant support received by English language publications, similar to the amount paid by Quebec to French-language titles.

For English-language titles, the Canada Council remains the lead granting agency, providing 21% of total revenue (provinces provide 13%, municipalities provide 11%), whereas in Quebec, the province is the lead financial supporter at 30% of revenue (the Council provides 22%, municipalities provide 8%). Total grants represent 49% of income for English-language titles and 65% for French-language titles. 
The compiled data reports that arts and literary magazines have been no more successful than their commercial counterparts in monetizing web-based publsihing; while e-titles are trending upwards, none of the increase is attributable to readers paying for access and expansion of e-titles didn't come close to replacing the revenue declines in print. 

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