The release of the Jan/Feb issues of Dell’s digest magazines marks the first year of their bi-monthly, double-issue format. The issues also provide the publisher’s statements of ownership, which include the average number of copies for a variety of categories, over a preceding 12-month period, for the print editions.
Magazines print more copies than they sell through subscriptions and newsstands. For the big five digests, excess inventory is offered in Value Packs on their websites. A great opportunity for readers to try out recent issues of a title at a fraction of its regular price.
Dell and F&SF sell far more issues via subscriptions than newsstands. For the most part, combining the two gives you the total paid circulation. However, it’s important to note these numbers don’t include digital sales, which are likely on the rise. Below is the “total paid distribution” from Jan/Feb 2017 and 2018 of the print editions:
Except for F&SF, the year-over-year numbers show declines of ~500–1000. Is this due to thicker, less frequent issues, general magazine publishing trends, distribution challenges, or something else? Without numbers on digital edition sales, it’s unclear. But I will share some anecdotal evidence about my experience buying the Jan/Feb 2018 issue of AHMM. (I generally buy magazines at a newsstand to avoid subscription mailing labels.)
Shortly after the new Dell books were out, I went to Rich’s Cigar Store on SW Alder, which to my knowledge is the largest magazine shop in Portland, Oregon. Dell’s two SF digests were there, but not AHMM. They still had five copies of the previous issue on display.
After the holidays I tried Powell’s in Cedar Hills. They had EQMM and F&SF, but no Hitchcock. A week or two later I called Powell’s to see if it had arrived. The CSR couldn’t locate the issue or the title, despite the fact that I have purchased it there before.
My fallback is wwnewstand on ebay, but as of yesterday they still were not offering it.
I finally found a copy at Barnes & Nobel at Bridgeport Village. After my purchase, there was only one remaining. I also learned you could buy a single issue AHMM from the B&N website. Good to know of another backup option.
I think the difficulty points to the distributor. When I asked for an issue of Strand Magazine at Rich’s one day this fall, the manager told me they were never quite sure what the distributor was going to give them. Apparently, in the case of the current AHMM—zero. As of my last trip there in mid-January, Rich’s still had five copies of Nov/Dec 2017 on display.
Genre digest publishers—even the big five—have their challenges. If you like what they do, please support them at the newsstand, online, or through subscriptions. The world needs stories, and they publish some of the best.
Note: Total paid distribution numbers for Fate and Nostalgia Digest are not listed here, as I didn’t find any Statements of Ownership in recent issues.