Scrapbook Magazine Circulation & CK Media

Today I decided to delve into the circulation statistics of the various scrapbook magazines to see what light they may shed on the state of CK Media and of the industry in general.

Brace yourself…here comes a lot of statistics…

First, their advertising content numbers are revealing about why Simple Scrapbooks was discontinued. The previous two published issues (Jan/Feb 2009 and Mar/Apr 2009) have been only 15% and 11% paid advertising content,

A look at the circulation statistics (as filed in their annual USPS circulation reports) of all of the major scrapbook magazines is definitely educational. It both explains where the magazines in this industry have been, and points to where they might be going.

One of the statistics that the magazines must report in their USPS circulation statements is the average per-issue circulation of all issues in the past 12 months. The most recent available reports were filed on October 1st, 2008. I did some comparing to the ones that were filed the same day in 2007.

PaperCrafts and Creating Keepsakes‘ average circulation per issue was basically stable between 2007 and 2008. Simple Scrapbooks dropped approximately 8% from 2007 to 2008, and Digital Scrapbooking Magazine dropped around 12%.

Volume of circulation is even more important than the percentage amount of change in that number, however. Circulation numbers show that Scrapbooks Etc. is the unquestioned ruler of the magazine market in scrapbooking. Their average circulation of 280,000 copies dwarfs the next largest contender – Creating Keepsakes – who only averages about 200,000 copies. Scrapbooks Etc. crushes everyone else’s sales on the newsstand, moving more than twice as many copies there as CK, and providing them a circulation advantage of about 45,000 copies through that outlet. Their average subscriber volume is also about 35,000 stronger than Creating Keepsakes.

(An interesting aside about newsstand sales of scrapbook magazines: At my local Publix grocery store this afternoon there were 3 scrapbook magazines available for sale – Scrapbooks Etc, Creating Keepsakes, & PaperCrafts – and no less than nine quilting titles.)

For total circulation the magazines are ranked in their 2008 average circulation reports as follows:

  1. Scrapbooks Etc. (280,000)
  2. Creating Keepsakes (200,000)
  3. PaperCrafts (177,000)
  4. Memory Makers (159,000)
  5. Simple Scrapbooks (120,000)
  6. Digital Scrapbooking (36,000)

(Other magazines are not included because I did not have the issues that contained the circulation reports.)

The surprise strong second place contender on the newsstand is PaperCrafts. In fact, both Simple and PaperCrafts on average outsold Creating Keepsakes on the newsstand in the 2008 circulation numbers.

Looking at the numbers in the list above, it is a little easier to understand the actions taken by CK Media in the past few months of shuttering the magazines that it did. Even if there were those of us like myself who loved the two titles, obviously we were in publishing terms too small of an audience.

What do those numbers mean going forward? Scrapbooks Etc. seems in the strongest position – their circulation is strong and they are still managing a higher percentage of ad content at a higher page count than anyone else.

Creating Keepsakes would seem to be in a relatively strong position as well, except that we already know the company has dug themselves a deep hole.

Advertising content at both PaperCrafts and Memory Makers has dropped to dangerous levels, and they don’t have the circulation strength of CK and Scrapbooks Etc. to rely on. The health of those publications will bear watching.

No one in the publishing industry is immune from trouble in current times. Publications are dropping right and left. We shouldn’t expect the scrapbook industry to be any different.

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