Digital magazine sales doubled in second half of 2012, as newsstand sales dropped

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The number of U.S. consumer magazines sold on tablet devices and other mobile platforms in the second half of 2012 more than doubled from the same period a year earlier, according to the latest figures released today by the Alliance for Audited Media (formerly known as the Audit Bureau of Circulations).

The 289 titles with digital replica editions audited by AAM reported more than 7.9 million of them for the second half of the year, up from 3.2 million in the second half of 2011.

Though encouraging, that figure is only a sliver of overall sales, accounting for 2.4 percent of the industry's total average circulation, up from less than 1 percent the previous year.

The digital momentum is nevertheless a bright spot for publishers, who have been pushing tablet editions in the face of shrinking print circulation and advertising revenues.

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Total circulation for the 402 consumer magazines that report to AAM fell .3 percent during the second half of 2012. Newsstand sales, one thermometer for gauging the health of magazines, fell 8.2 percent, continuing a downward trend that's been consistent in recent reports. Time, for instance, saw a 23.2 percent decline. (The magazine published two high-selling special issues in the second half of 2011, commemmorating the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and the life of Steve Jobs, and didn't publish any similar special issues during the same period last year, which could account for at least part of the plunge.)

Among the top 25 magazines in digital circulation were Cosmopolitan (254,751), Wired (84,118), GQ (74,806), The New Yorker (59,471) Esquire (57,795), Glamour (53,794) and Vanity Fair (53,735).

But none of those could hold a candle to the industry champ: Game Informer Magazine, which claimed a whopping 2,305,816.