Circulation 101: General Magazine Circulation Terms

There are some general words and phrases used throughout AAM rules, reports and data pertaining to magazine circulation. Here’s a quick cheat sheet explaining some of the more commonly used terms.


In our Circulation 101 columns, we explore some of the foundational knowledge needed to understand and analyze print and digital circulation. Whether you’re new to circulation and AAM or you’re a veteran looking for a quick refresh, we’ve got something for you.


Annual Frequency
The number of times a magazine is published in a year.


The traditional hard copy of a magazine.


Digital Issue
The digital version of a magazine that maintains the same identity, logotype and name as the print magazine. Digital issues are available on restricted-access websites and mobile apps.


Net of Considerations
A consideration is anything that a consumer may be offered to encourage them to purchase a magazine. For example, a coffee mug featuring the magazine’s logo or tickets to a local sporting event are both considerations. Net of considerations is the amount of money the publisher receives after the value of the consideration has been deducted from the purchased price of the magazine subscription.


Paid Subscriptions
To qualify as paid, a consumer must have paid at least one penny, net of all considerations, for the magazine subscription.


Verified Subscriptions
These are subscription copies designated by publishers for readership in public places—such as waiting rooms—or sent to individuals who are likely to have a strong affinity for the magazine’s content. These are typically free copies with the recipient given the opportunity to opt out of the subscription.


Single-Copy Sales
These are paid copies of magazines sold at newsstands, racks or retail outlets. The consumer must have paid at least one penny, net of considerations, for the copy.


Analyzed Nonpaid
Analyzed nonpaid copies are distributed free of charge to defined recipients or are available for pickup at designated locations.


Total Circulation
The sum of paid subscriptions, verified subscriptions, single-copy sales, and analyzed nonpaid copies.


Rate Base
The publisher-provided guarantee of circulation performance.


Variance to Rate Base
The difference between total circulation and rate base.


You can download the full glossary of magazine publisher’s statement terms and definitions on our website.

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