Apple Newsstand sales are included in report - but this has skewed the monthly average

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Some of the UK's biggest consumer magazines have begun reporting separate digital edition figures as part of their official audited circulation for the first time.

The latest Audit Bureau of Circulation data release, covering the last half of 2011, features digital edition statistics for 72 titles - from Men's Health to Practical Motorhome.

It is the first time that magazine publishers have been able to separately report digital edition sales alongside a print figure.

ABC says digital editions are now considered "sufficiently similar to the print product to be represented on the same certificate" - but publishers are not allowed to add the print and digital figures together to form a headline circulation figure.

At face value, Men's Health reported the highest average monthly digital circulation, at 7,779, closely followed by T3 on 7,327. Technology titles including Wired, Stuff and MacUser also made the top 10.

However, direct comparisons between the titles are not yet possible, because some of the figures include Apple Newsstand downloads - a service which launched in mid-October, halfway through the ABC reporting period.

This means that the average monthly digital circulation figure quoted by ABC might be lower than the actual figure, because the figure used by ABC is an average over the full six months.

The next circulation data release, in August, will include relaxed rules on what counts as a "digital edition" of a magazine.

At present, the content of digital editions must not vary from their print equivalents by more than five per cent to be considered the same title. This will be extended to 25 per cent.

ABC said in a statement today: "ABC is continually reviewing feedback from publishers and agencies to inform changes to the rules.

This is necessary because digital products are evolving rapidly with publishers trying out different approaches, which can vary widely across the industry.

"For the next reporting period (Jan-June 2012) publishers will be able to present any digital publication they wish to on a separate Digital Publication certificate under the new digital publications rules, launched in January 2012. For these publications, there is no link required to any print edition."

Reported monthly digital edition figures for second half of 2011

Men's Health - 7,779
T3 - 7,327
GQ - 5,731
Cosmopolitan - 5,675
Men's Fitness - 3,987
Esquire - 3,745
MacUser - 3,648
Stuff - 3,630
Wired - 3,190
Total Film - 2,910

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