Having spent the last two weeks traveling in Australia, I thought it’d share some of my observations on the magazine scene down under.
The first thing I noticed is that in Oz, it’s all about the newsstand. There’s a news agency on virtually every block in downtown Sydney and they’re all crawling with titles, both domestic and foreign (I'll add some photos soon). Cover prices, meanwhile, are generally much higher than they are here—I rarely saw a title selling for less than $7.
A little bit of research backs up my anecdotal observations. From the Magazine Publishers of Australia (MPA) website
Around 90% of magazine sales in Australia are via retail outlets, such as newsagencies, supermarkets, convenience stores and auto service stations. Approximately 10% are sold via subscriptions.
In Canada, subscriptions account for about
65% of total sales, based on a report
by Rogers’ Michael J. Fox.
Canada has about 12 million more people living in it than Australia but Aussies spend more money on magazines than we do—about $190 million more in 2007, based on numbers from the MPA and Fox’s report. Our southern hemisphere mates buy fewer copies than we do, though: about 223 million gross copies (subs and single copies, domestic and foreign) were sold in Australia in 2007, versus 338 million sold here in the same year. In short, Aussies pay about twice as much per copy as Canadians.
The other key observation I made is that Australian newsstands are packed with franchise magazines, i.e. Vogue Australia
, GQ Australia
, Australian Men’s Fitness
, Australian Macworld
and Australian Penthouse Black Label
. (N.B. Porn magazines are a lot easier to access and flip through on Australian newsstands; I often found them placed on lower shelves without any kind of plastic wrapping.)
Franchising makes a lot of sense in Australia, since it costs publishers a lot of money to ship magazines there and those costs have to be passed onto the consumer (a single copy of Harper’s
costs $18.95 in Australia). American and British publishers are better off selling the franchise rights to Aussie companies and allowing them to create a domestic version of the brand.
Based on some page flipping, content in many of these franchise titles is mostly homegrown, though in one of the books I bought—FourFourTwo Australia
, a soccer magazine—only about 25% of the content was domestic. This was fine by me—Australia is a great country and all, but they’re still Third World when it comes to the beautiful game.