Four million and falling fast

Circulation of National Geographic magazine (NGM) is about to fall below 4 million for the first time in generations. And while many print magazines are struggling, National Geographic is struggling more than most: Of the top 25 U.S. consumer magazines, only Reader’s Digest suffered a larger percentage circulation drop than did NGM for the year ending June 30, 2013:


So how does Chris Johns, Editor of National Geographic, talk about the magazine when he’s in public? What do you say when your ship has a gaping hole in its hull and the entire world can see that you’re sinking?

Yes, of course. There’s digital. Digital storytelling that’s exciting and engaging, cross-generational and multi-pronged — all delivered via our critically acclaimed National Geographic iPad app… right?


In other words: the web.

But since few, if any, publishers have figured out how to make money on the web, our Society is now financially dependent on this guy:

Rupert Murdoch laughs

{ The Society’s key financial numbers are here. }

John Fahey National Geographic

  • Geoff

    Good. I won’t have anything to do with them since they own Scienceblogs.

    • Anonymous

      National Geographic does not own nor no longer operate Scienceblogs.

  • Anonymous

    it was 10.5 million when I started here just over 10 years ago

    • Anon – 10.5 million in English? Or are you counting all local language editions?

      • Anonymous

        US Circ- scary, huh? Its not all Society’s fault (some is) – they are one of the highest on Apple and Android tablets -but that’s still small. Some of it is simply a move away from magazines and that type of reporting -some of it is NG’s lack of connection and importance. Its not like People is doing so much right vs. National Geographic, in my opinion. Its that they have a stronger base of younger subscribers given its topic.

        • Anon – I don’t have the numbers in front of me, but I’m quite certain that ten years ago, U.S. circulation of NGM was FAR below 10.5 million.

          Also: Plenty of people like to compare NGM to any number of other magazines — Time, People, Sports Illustrated, Smithsonian, etc. But the NGS challenge is not to identify what’s the same, but what’s different. When you start doing that, you see the Society’s history… its members… and, most of all, it’s values and the point of view which made it such a success. Focus on those elements, and I think you begin to see the outlines for a solution to what ails the Society.

          Thanks for stopping by, and for your comment.

          • Anonymous

            Sorry, 8 million subscribers, 10.5 million readers when I started – verified. not FAR below, but thanks for the unnecessary caps!

          • Hovering at around 4 million now…

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