Newspaper Fas-Fax: E-Edition Circulation Up 40 Percent

Buried inside today’s not-as-bad-as-feared newspaper circulation FAS-FAX (newspaper circ was only down 8.75 percent daily), some data on what’s going on with e-editions. The number of daily electronic editions sold by the newspapers at the top of the category rose 40 percent, according to reports made to the Audit Bureau of Circulation. The top 25 papers in the category accounted for 1,363,212 electronic subscriptions in the six-month period that ended March 31, 21010, compared with 973,721 in the same period a year ago.

The Wall Street Journal headed the list with 414,025 e-edition, slightly less than the next six papers combined; then the Detroit Free Press, 105,210 (separately, the Detroit News reported 52,516), and the New York Times, 90,934. The Times more than doubled from 43,884 last year. The gulf is wide: the lowest six papers on this list range between 21,733 and 23,305. Together, numbers 11-25 don’t break 390,000.

The count includes digital replicas, online-only subscriptions, Kindle subscriptions, and products like Times Reader. For instance, WSJ tells me they included online-only subs and Kindle; that wouldn’t include my household, which subscribes to both print and online. (A Kindle subscription for a print household would count because the accounts aren’t linked.) The papers don’t break out specific kind of subscriptions in the report.

But you can get a sense of the range of numbers we’re talking about when it comes to paid electronic circulation. The #1-ranking Journal is #2 on the Kindle list, which is topped by the Times. The Washington Post was #15 on this list with 27,713 average e-editions Monday through Friday; it’s #5 on the Kindle best-selling list. (To show how volatile this category is, the Post went up a few hundred copies and dropped six places from its #9 in last year’s March top 25.) USA Today and the LA Times aren’t even on the e-edition list but both are in the current Kindle top 10; USAT only recently started e-edition sales.

It’s hard to tell how much of this can be attributed to a rule change last April. Previously, sales counted only if a print or electronic purchaser paid 25 percent of the paper’s basic rate; as of April 1, 2009, it takes a little as a cent to qualify April 1, purchasers had to pay at least one cent to qualify a copy as paid.