Peter Lauria of Reuters talked with Andrew Rashbass, the chief executive of The Economist Group, about the magazine’s continued growth.
Lauria writes, “Figures from the Audit Bureau of Circulation released on Thursday showed that The Economist increased its combined print and digital paid circulation by just under 1 percent to 1.59 million during the July-December 2011 period, marking the first time it passed 1.5 million circulation.
“Print still dominates the weekly magazine’s audience, with 1.49 million people reading articles in that form compared with 100,000 reading them digitally. In North America, The Economist’s largest market, circulation increased 1.3 percent during the period to 845,000.
“It took The Economist, established in 1843, 161 years to break the 1 million circulation barrier in 2004. Rashbass predicts the magazine will crack 2 million within five years, with more than half of that coming from digital platforms.
“‘Twenty years ago people were saying that The Economist’s covers weren’t newsstand oriented, and 20 years later they still aren’t, but that doesn’t seem to matter,’ said Reed Phillips, managing director at boutique media investment bank DeSilva & Phillips.
“The Economist’s growth comes amid a punishing environment for print magazines, which have seen their bottom lines steadily decline as readers and advertisers migrate to digital platforms.
“For example, Time’s paid circulation fell 0.5 percent for the six months ended December 31, 2011, to 3.3 million, while Newsweek’s fell 1.8 percent to 1.5 million. Among business publications, Bloomberg Businessweek reported a 1 percent gain in total paid circulation to 932,500.”
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