It’s widely known that total circulation (sales) numbers for the main science fiction and fantasy magazines have been dropping for years. For example, in 1983 Analog’s circulation was around 115,000. Asimov’s and Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, while not that high, were in the same general ball park. A lot has changed since then. Sales took a huge hit in the early 1990’s and continued to drop almost every year. However, last year something wonderful happened. Numbers went up.
Gardner Dozois, in his summation of the SFF industry for 2010, found in The Year’s Best Science Fiction Vol 28, from which 2010 and 2009 numbers were taken, mentions that the growth numbers for Asimov’s subscriptions were driven in large part by “digital copies sold for e-readers through devices such as the Kindle,” and that Analog’s increase in subscriptions was “also largely because of digital sales.”
We all know that ebook took off last year. It will be very interesting to see the increase in total circulation continues for these magazines in 2011. Here is the supporting data that was collected from the reports in The Year’s Best Science Fiction volumes 20 – 28. Total circulation is made up of subscriptions and newsstand sales. Sell-through is a measurement of the % of the copies displayed in newsstands (at Barnes & Noble etc.) which sold. I added the Realms of Fantasy figures just so we could see, with the magazine recently dying its third death, just how big it once was.
Of course, a fascinating question is: what are the chief factors that led to such a drastic decline in the first place? But I don’t know anyone who has been able to provide data to suggest what the chief cause(s) are. If anyone knows of one, please post in the comments.
Wikipedia: Analog Science Fiction and Fact,