The combination of declining single copy sales and the rise of online paywalls may mean fewer young readers will be picking up the newspaper reading habit
The paid subscription, whether in print or online or on tablets, appears to be where newspaper executives are concentrating their efforts. Selling single copies of publications is getting harder and harder due to the decline in the number of newsstands, city ordinances that make it harder to have newspaper boxes in high traffic areas, and the belief that paid digital subscriptions is the future.
When tracking circulation levels through audit reports, the loss of single copy sales is obvious, and dramatic. But worse, the loss is coming at a time when reading habits are changing. It is easier, in many cases, to get a copy of a paperback book delivered to your home than it is to get a single copy of a newspaper or magazine. It takes me but a few seconds and a few clicks to order a book, one that will be delivered to me the next day (or sometimes two days). But find a copy of the Chicago Tribune? That might take driving around a while.
Few newspapers have been immune to the declines: The Boston Globe has lost about 62 percent of its single copy sales in the last decade; the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 65 percent; theChicago Tribune over 80 percent. Overall, the decline in single copy sales is far outpacing that of subscriptions.