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American Rifleman Surges Into Magazines' Top 25

Industry's Tablet Circulation Grows Again but Still Just 3.5%

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Maxim is out; a gun magazine is in.

American Rifleman is the official magazine of the National Rifle Association.
American Rifleman is the official magazine of the National Rifle Association.

American Rifleman, one of the magazines that members of the National Rifle Association can receive as part of their membership, posted a 29.3% boost in circulation in the second half of last year, compared with the second half of 2012, according to new numbers released Thursday by the Alliance for Audited Media, which tracks magazine circulation. That leap, to an average circulation of 2.2 million from 1.7 million, was enough to propel American Rifleman into America's top 25 magazines by circulation, according to the circulation group.

Maxim, which is in a state of ownership limbo, fell off the top 25 list. It reduced its paid circulation guarantee to 2 million last year from 2.5 million, and its average circulation declined in step, to 2 million in the second half from 2.5 million a year earlier. Darden Media said last September that it planned to buy Maxim, but the deal was said to have fallen through in December, when Maxim owner Alpha Media began accepting new bids.

The surge for American Rifleman reflects the NRA's success in adding new members over the last year, according to the NRA. "Last year we had a 25% growth in membership," said NRA spokesman Andrew Arulanandam. "People who sign up for membership get their choice of one of three official journals for the NRA. American Rifleman is one of the more popular journals that we have."

The other two NRA titles are American Hunter and America's First Freedom.

Some of the biggest magazines in the top 25 have membership programs to fuel their circulation, such as AARP The Magazine and and Game Informer, which GameStop bundles with its PowerUp Rewards Pro Card. But most of the rest, like Maxim, rely primarily on consumers ordering individual subscriptions.

The magazine industry posted a 1.7% decline in total paid and verified circulation in the second half of last year, according to the new figures from the Alliance for Audited Media. Subscriptions declined just 1.2% while single-copy sales continued their prolonged, steep drop with another 11.2% decline from the period a year earlier, according to the Alliance for Audited Media.

Digital editions again provided something of a bright spot. Magazines reported a 36.7% boost in digital editions to 10.8 million. Despite the increase, however, digital editions now comprise just 3.5% of overall circulation. That figure was 3.3% in the first half and 2.4% in the second half of 2012.

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