[Updated 10:05 a.m. with PiPress press release]
Continuing a years-long trend, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported slightly increased paid circulation in the Audit Bureau of Circulations eFAS-FAX report issued Monday. The PiPress’ Sunday sales rose 0.3 percent and its weekday sales were up 0.4 percent. The report covers October 2009 to March 2010.
E-editions — digital replicas of the print paper — accounted for much or all of the gains. On Sunday, the PiPress sold 502 more e-editions than a year earlier, and 157 more print editions. (The print rise is notable at time when most sales are falling.) On the average weekday, the PiPress sold 5,299 more e-editions, and 4,587 fewer print editions.
In a media release, the PiPress notes that “home-delivered” (print) circulation in its core counties — Ramsey, Dakota and Washington — rose 2,579 on Sundays and 4,583 Wednesday-Friday. The paper says its overall Sunday growth ranks third among the nation’s top 50 papers in the past year, and eighth on weekdays.
E-edition sales now account for 24 percent of PiPress weekday sales and 7 percent of Sunday sales. Comparable Strib figures are 10 percent and 2 percent.
As noted in the piece on the Strib’s numbers, e-editions can be sold at a great discount, though without printing and distribution costs, profit margins can rise depending on price. In recent years, PiPress management has said circulation revenues and profits have risen as e-edition sales have soared. (The bulk of revenues still come from advertising, however, and print is typically more potent than digital.)
Sales to educational programs and other discount third-party buyers were flat on Sunday and down 3-5 percent on weekdays. As with the Strib report, there’s no fuller breakdown on discounting in the eFAS-FAX; such figures will come in a fully audited report in a few weeks.
The PiPress reported market penetration stats of 41 percent for its Sunday edition within its 516,000-household designated market, up from 40.2 percent a year earlier. On weekdays, penetration rose to 33 percent on weekdays from 32.2 percent. Unlike the Strib data, the PiPress report did not list overall market penetration stats for print (typically measured in readership over a 7-day period) or online (30 days).