Distribution

Part: 
Four
Chapter: 
 

Since the arrival of Playboy magazine in 1953, the market for mainstream sexually explicit magazines has expanded.[1903] The growth of these magazines was evident through the early 1980s after which time circulation appears to have declined significantly.[1904] Table Four sets forth the thirteen top-selling mainstream sexually explicit magazines audited by the A.B.C. and the average monthly circulation for each from 1975-1984.

Table 4

Top Selling Sexually Explicit Magazines Audited by the Audit Bureau of Circulation* *' Average Circulation Per Month for 1975-1984

  1975 1976 1977 1978 1979 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984
Cheri         *362,572 395,805 443,034 409,958 388,497 360,993
Chic     *282,221 22,952 294,331 268,340 212,356 164,507 **N/A **N/A
Club Magazine *255,146 543,010 738,152 579,648 529,834 528,192 539.783 518,463 486,776 463,605
Club International           241,761 254,768 242,152 217,214 185,532
Form *318,728 466,295 637,416 728,028 805,624 721,233 581,917 523,163 500,313 438,132
Gallery Magazine 647,173 688,612 700,491 661,077 660,302 583,123 541,0625 481.186 484,506 475,321
Genesis *342,589 368,508 373,399 382,802 414,506 361,481 333,588 311,178 273,720 284,897
High Society           *443,142 448,767 414,729 377,033 360,723
Hustler 554,559 1,681,889 1,826,156 1,517,011 1,639,284 1,531,855 1,309,473 1,147,181 1,075,141 **N/A
Oui 1,276,498 1,166,784 944,737 882,066 862,488 780,420 731,166 480,615 **N/A **N/A
Penthouse 3,966,109 4,235,021 4,599,903 4,367,094 4,429,911 5,542,910 4,248,554 4,017,853 3,596,758 3,275,677
Playboy 5,663,149 5,388,522 4,914,381 4,978,490 5,378,069 5,308,553 5,091,266 4,619,572 4,187,452 4,209,824
Playgirl 1,061,010 921,061 747,230 625,252 727,259 772,406 670,721 650,605 602,499 562,788
Total 14,084,961 15,450,702 15,841,086 14,984,420 16,104,180 16,479,221 15,406,458 13,981,162 12,189,909 10,617,482

 

  • * Indicates an initial report. The report is based on the second half of the year, starting July 1 of the reported year and ending on December 30 of the same year.

     

  • ** Indicates information not available due to resignation of the client or temporary suspension of service.

     

  • *** The average monthly circulation is based on annual reports made by the Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC), 123 North Wacker Drive, Chicago, Illinois 60606. Annual reports were not available for the publications listed below for the years indicated:

     

    Club Magazine - 1984
    Club International - 1984
    High Society - 1984
    Hustler - 1983
    Playboy - 1984

     

    The last entries for these publications were calculated by taking the average of two six month reports for the year in which the final entries were made. The two six month periods were from January 1 through June 30, 1984 and from July 1 through December 30, 1984.

Of the three top selling magazines, Playboy, Penthouse and Hustler, Penthouse and Hustler experienced a significant increase in monthly circulation from 1975 to 1980. In 1975, Penthouse had a monthly circulation of 3,966,109 and in 1980 this number had risen to 4,542,910. In 1975, Hustler had a monthly circulation of 554,559 and in 1980, that figure had risen to 1,531,855. Playboy, on the other hand, experienced a slight decrease in monthly circulation between 1975 and 1980. In 1975, 5,663,149 Playboy magazines were circulated each month and in 1980 that figure had decreased to 5,308,555. However, by 1983, all had experienced a decrease in average monthly circulation; Playboy sold 4,187,452, Penthouse sold 3,596.758 and Hustler sold 1,075,141. Moreover, between 1984 and 1985 most of these magazines again experienced a significant decline in circulation.[1905]

The A.B.C.'s Magazine Publisher's Statements provide the per issue single copy and subscription prices for the magazines. In calculating a total dollar value for these thirteen magazines, we used the 1982 figures and single copy prices. 1982 was the last year that all thirteen magazines were represented by the ABC and a vast majority of these magazines are single copy sales. The dollar value of each magazine was calculated by multiplying the number of magazines sold by the per issue single copy price. In 1982, the estimated monthly sales value in the United States alone for these thirteen magazines was approximately $38,602,502.25.

Besides the thirteen magazines discussed above, it has been estimated that there are currently between fifty thousand and sixty thousand different sexually explicit magazine titles available in the United States.[1906] In fact hundreds of new titles come out each month.[1907] As discussed above, these magazines depict a variety of sexual themes and acts.[1908]

Sovereign News and Star Distributors, Inc. are major distributors of many of these magazines.[1909] These companies distribute magazines to "adults only" pornographic outlets and mail order operations across the country through a sophisticated nationwide network.[1910] In those areas of the country not serviced by Sovereign News or Star Distributors, smaller subdistributors are used to transport the magazines to "adults only" pornographic retail outlets.[1911]

At least half of the retail sales of sexually explicit magazines are made by pornographic outlets and the remainder of these magazines are sold by mail order.[1912]

The profit margin for producers and distributors of sexually explicit magazines remains high.[1913] The cost of producing both sexually explicit and non-sexually explicit magazines is similar at the processing level.[1914] The processing costs range from only sixty cents to one dollar per issue,[1915] but the profit margins are vastly different. The non-sexually explicit magazines are often marked up 240 percent from the wholesale to retail levels, while the sexually oriented publications are marked up more than four hundred to five hundred percent.[1916] Retailers in turn mark up the magazines based on consumer supply and demand.[1917] Usually the maximum markup at the retail level is one hundred percent.[1918]

Sexually explicit magazines are advertised in sexually explicit paperbacks, tabloids and other magazines. Some of the more mainstream magazines, for example Playboy, also advertise through direct mail, television and in many major city daily newspapers and magazines.

Notes

The A.B.C. prepares and issues standardized statements of circulation, geographical analysis, and other information reported to it by its membership. It also verifies the figures contained in the members' statements by means of an annual auditor's examination of the publisher's records. Finally, it distributes the above information, without editorial comment.

The A.B.C. publishers' reports are prepared twice annually. Publishers submit figures indicating their total sales for each month as well as their average circulation for a given six-month period. The publishers also submit geographical analyses for their total paid circulation based on a one-month period.

The A.B.C. records only provide circulation figures for sexually explicit magazines which are part of its membership. A.B.C. records, therefore, are not a comprehensive listing of the circulation of all sexually explicit magazines. In addition, the list of sexually explicit publications whose circulation is reported by the A.B.C. has changed from time to time. Not all sexually explicit magazines surveyed in this section have consistently been members of the A.B.C. However, A.B.C. figures were available for nine of the surveyed sexually explicit magazines in 1975, for thirteen in 1980 and for ten in 1984. Audit Bureau of Circulation Brochure, This is the ABC; Interview with Jackie Kid, Audit Bureau of Circulation (Feb. 10, 1986).

  1. Chicago Hearing, Vol. I, Peter Petruzzellis, 288G; In conducting our analysis of the most widely circulated sexually explicit magazines, the Commission received substantial assistance from the Audit Bureau of Circulation (A.B.C.) which is a repository possessing factual information concerning the audited circulation of major magazine publications. The information made available by the A.B.C. provides the basis for estimated changes in the extent, volume and regional distribution of sales from 1975 to 1984. The information also describes the minimal market value of a significant portion of the pornographic magazine business in the United States.
  2. See, Table Four.
  3. Media Industry Newsletter, (Mar. 5, 1986) Vol. 39, No. 9.
  4. Interview with Sergeant Donald Smith, Los Angeles Police Department (Mar. 9, 1986).
  5. Id.
  6. See, The Imagery Found Among Magazines, Books, Films in "Adults Only" Pornographic Outlets, infra.
  7. Interview with Sergeant Donald Smith, Los Angeles Police Department, (Mar. 9, 1986).
  8. Id.; Mail order companies can be found in most large cities such as Los Angeles, New York and Chicago as well as some smaller cities. Id.
  9. Id.
  10. Id.
  11. Los Angeles Hearing, Vol. I, Robert Peters, pp. 33-34.
  12. Id.
  13. Id.; Some magazines cost as much as two dollars to produce. Miami Hearing, Vol. I, Mike Berish, p. 91.
  14. Id.
  15. Interview with Detective Robert Peters, Los Angeles Police Department (Mar. 9, 1986); Interview with Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Police Department Detectives (Mar. 10, 1986).
  16. Id.