Following my recent post about British garden magazines and their websites, I thought I’d take a look at the sales of the magazines themselves. Sales of most British garden magazines are in more or less steady decline. Competition from the plethora of TV programs, expanded gardening coverage in national newspapers and free online information and advice – well, people feel they just don’t need gardening magazines as much as they used to.
So weekly Garden News is down over 10% year on year and monthly Garden Answers is down almost 20% - but now has an excellent new editor, Geoff Stebbings. Garden News, and its weekly competitor Amateur Gardening, are now down to about one third of the sales they showed in their heyday but there are successes.
BBC Gardeners World is up a little, about 1%, but its connection with the weekly TV how is an enormous help – as is its determination, from its launch, to sign up subscriptions. The excellent Gardens Illustrated is up 18%, helped by some more concentrated management effort. The Garden, the membership magazine from the Royal Horticultural Society still leads the way selling more than 351,000 copies a month.
But change is in the air. Garden Answers has an excellent new editor. Though you would never know from its owner’s corporate website where no editor is listed (and they’re a year out of date with the Garden News editor too).
New Garden Answers editor Geoff Stebbings is surprisingly unusual amongst editors of gardening magazines - he’s a trained botanist and horticulturalist! He has a long career of writing about plants and gardens, as a book author, magazine contributor and as a magazine staffer. The other model is for the editor to be a journalist (the Garden News editor was previously a distinguished editor of Angling Times) and for horticulturalists to be part of the editor’s team. This can work very well. But it’s good to see a top plantsman and top writer in the top job. I wish him well – it could be a bumpy ride.
Here are the audited circulation figures for the British gardening magazines for January to June 2007. Some of the smaller magazines do not have their circulations audited.
Amateur Gardening - 48,362
Garden News - 44,047
BBC Gardeners World -303,448
English Garden (UK edition) - 36,902
Garden Answers - 36,549
Gardens Illustrated - 27,090
Gardens Monthly - 26,017
The Garden - 351,487
English Garden (US edition) - 30,783