Using Digital Vendor Reports to File Your Publisher’s Statement: A How-To Guide from the MDAC

  1. Introduction
  2. Before You Start
  3. The Tools
  4. Information Sources by Vendor
  5. Using the Templates
  6. Last Steps

Introduction

Digital editions are a small but growing part of magazines’ circulation mix. With many new players involved in this immature space, it can be a struggle to get the information to file your publisher’s statement and complete your audit. To help our members, AAM has teamed with the Magazine Directors’ Advisory Committee (MDAC) and a publisher task force to help guide you through the process of analyzing your vendor reports and translating them for your publisher’s statement.

AAM recognizes that the reports you currently receive from tablet vendors (Apple, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Next Issue Media) and other digital replica vendors (Zinio) are maintained outside of the publishers’ fulfillment systems and may not provide all the information required for filing your publisher’s statements. To ensure industry-wide consistency, we recommend you use the methods outlined in this guide for filing your publisher's statements. During the audit, AAM auditors will verify that the data was provided in accordance with this guide.

A series of spreadsheet templates for your digital circulation maintained outside the system (OTS) are available. If you have any digital circulation not addressed by these spreadsheets, or have other questions not addressed by this guide, please contact your AAM publisher relations manager.

Before You Start

Publishers will need some additional information that is not provided on the vendor reports to complete the templates.

  • Annual frequency of the magazine
  • Names and fulfillment house numbers of each issue in the statement period
  • Replica or nonreplica status of each issue in the statement period
  • The “go-live” date, which is the date each digital issue first appeared in the respective stores. Some publications release their issues on the same day as the print magazine’s newsstand on-sale date. Others use different release dates for each digital vendor.
  • The single copy and subscription prices of the digital editions
  • AAM value of each premium used (if premiums were used to sell digital editions)
  • The summary reports from each of your digital vendors (see Information Sources by Vendor for more details), or the detailed reports from Amazon and Apple. 

The Tools

Tip
If you use Zinio or Next Issue Media, these templates will still work for you.
- The Barnes & Noble template can also be used for Next Issue Media and Zinio’s detailed report.
- Amazon’s template can be used for Zinio’s summary report.

As a supplement to this guide, we have created several spreadsheet templates that will help you calculate the data for:

  • Paragraphs 1 and 6: average subscriptions and average single copy sales
  • Paragraph 3: issue by issue subscription copies served/single copies sold
  • Paragraph 2: average subscription price
  • Paragraph 8: channel of sales

Tip
Don’t forget to rename the spreadsheets to avoid confusion. If you work with any other OTS vendor, please contact AAM’s publisher relations department.

We created a few samples and templates to take you through the process: a sample of the original vendor report, a blank worksheet to calculate your copies, and a completed worksheet to use as an example of what you should end with. The documents are available for download as Excel files below:

Original Report Sample Blank Worksheet Filled In Worksheet Example
Amazon Amazon Amazon
Apple Apple Apple
Barnes & Noble Barnes & Noble Barnes & Noble

Within the worksheets, you’ll find additional tables to calculate the OTS sales. The tabs are labeled:

  • OTS SC – Outside the System Single Copies. Used to calculate single-copy sales.
  • OTS M2M SUB – Outside the System Digital Month-to-Month Subscriptions. Used to calculate subscriptions billed monthly (e.g. all Amazon subscriptions and some Apple iTunes subscriptions).
  • OTS TERMED SUB – Outside the System Termed Subscriptions. Used for subscriptions sold for an annual, semi-annual or quarterly term (Example: Currently some subscriptions are sold with an annual term through Apple iTunes). 

Tip
If a publication sells termed subscriptions for multiple terms (i.e., some semi-annual and some annual), please make a copy of this tab and use one to calculate the semi-annual subscriptions and the second for annual subscriptions.

The basis of the calculations for all tabs within the workbook is copies served/sold. The source of information is the summary report provided by each vendor (the first tab with each template shows a sample of that report).

The Barnes & Noble reports provide issue information, but Amazon and Apple reports do not. For those providers, the issue served has to be calculated. There are two methods to calculate this information.

  • Summary Method
    The summary method is based on the vendor’s summary-level report. This method is easier because it generalizes the issue served information.
  • Detailed Method
    The detailed information is based on the daily information in the vendor’s detailed reports. This method is more time consuming but more specific on an issue-by-issue basis.

Tip
The spreadsheet templates are designed for individually sold subscriptions. If you have sponsored circulation, create a copy of the template and use one for individual subscriptions and the second for sponsored. The template functions the same but the calculations for Paragraphs 2 and 8 are not applicable for sponsored circulation.

You will arrive at the same number of total copies using either method, but there will be some issue-by-issue differences. Both methods are approved by AAM and the choice of method is at the discretionary of the member. Once you commit to a method, please do not change it without notifying AAM.

Information Sources by Vendor

Each vendor report provides unique data about subscriptions and single copies. This information is current as of June 2012 and will be updated as needed.

Barnes & Noble Nook

Tip
If you do not receive updated reports or have any questions, please contact your publisher relations manager.

The circulation summary report provides information about copies served by issue. The report shows cumulative information for the last three months of issues, so each month’s reports should not be added together. Keep in mind that Barnes & Noble reports are on a calendar basis, so the data will not be complete for any issues still on sale at the end of the report month. This should be considered when choosing the report to use for each issue. Barnes & Noble’s summary report includes counts by issue, so the provided detailed report is not needed. Also, as of June 2012, subscription prices in the detailed report are incorrectly stated and should be ignored.

Amazon Kindle Fire

Tip for magazines with dark months and selling month-to-month:
Because customers are billed every month regardless of the magazine’s frequency, only the totals from the first 30 days within the issue’s go-live period should be calculated. After that, you will need to adjust for the transactions that include the same customers who were billed in the first 30-day period.

Amazon’s reports do not provide cover date information, so the issues served (or sold for single copies) must be calculated. There are two acceptable approaches:

Summary Method: Amazon provides two monthly payment reports—one for single-copy sales and one for subscriptions. These reports show the number of transactions for each month (see sample in the Amazon template). The net issues purchased on the single-copy report and the net subscriptions purchased on the subscription report (excluding free trials) are the quantities that should be entered into the templates. Using built-in calculations, this information will be converted into copies-by-issue based on the report’s start and end dates and the go-live dates for each of the publisher’s issues.

Detailed Method: Amazon also issues a monthly digital circulation report providing customer-level data (see sample in the Amazon template). This report contains transaction type and date information. Counts can be calculated by transaction date for each transaction type by creating a pivot table. After you calculate the transaction dates, you can calculate the total number of transactions within the go-live period. In addition, any transaction listed as “transaction type = subscription refund” should be removed from the total of subscription charges. For example, if issue A goes live on January 17, and issue B goes live on February 14, then all the transactions between January 17 and February 13 count toward issue A. If you use this method, please save the pivot tables for auditor review.

Apple iTunes

Tip
Apple’s summary report details multiple currencies. To report global circulation, publishers should download all currencies for each reporting period and combine them into one spreadsheet.

Apple’s reports do not provide cover date information for subscriptions (although it does for single copies). Therefore, the issues served (or sold for single copies) must be calculated. There are two acceptable approaches:

Summary Method: Apple provides a monthly earnings report found in the payments and financial reports section of the iTunes Connect portal (see sample in the Apple template). The vendor identification and title columns of this report indicate whether the sales are for single copies, monthly subscriptions, or termed subscriptions. The quantity column shows the number of single copies or subscriptions sold in the period. The returns quantity should be netted against the sales. The data should be totaled across all currencies (Excel’s Pivot Table tool is helpful for this), and then entered into the appropriate locations on the templates. Those spreadsheets will convert these numbers into copies-by-issue based on the report’s start and end dates and the go-live dates for each issue.

Tip for magazines with dark months:
Because customers are billed every month regardless of the magazine’s frequency, only the totals from the first 30 days within the issue’s go-live period should be calculated. After that, you will need to adjust for the transactions that include the same customers who were billed in the first 30-day period.

Detailed Method: Apple also provides a daily report found in the sales and trends section of the iTunes Connect portal that shows transaction counts by day (see sample in the Apple template). The report is a tab-delimited text file, easily converted to Excel using the text import wizard (see sample of the Excel file in the Apple template). Only transactions types IA1, IA9 and IAY are paid purchases and can be counted. Single-copy sales are listed by issue for easy tallying. Counts for subscriptions can be tallied by product type and by the subscription column (indicating if it is a new or renewal subscription), and subtotaled by each issue’s go-live range (see Amazon explanation above). For example, if issue A goes live on January 17 and issue B goes live on February 14, then all the transaction between January 17 and February 13 count towards issue A. If you use this method, please save the daily reports and the worksheets you used to subtotal the daily reports for auditor review.

Using the Templates

As we’ve already explained, there are three different spreadsheet templates—Amazon, Apple and Barnes & Noble. Most of the differences in the templates are minor and the general descriptions provided below are accurate for each of them. If there are any differences for a specific template, we’ve noted the changes for you.

Template key

  • Blue cells – input cells
  • Yellow cells – answer cells needed for paragraph 2, 3 and 8
  • All other cells – formulas

Understanding the OTS tabs:

Outside the System Single Copies (OTS SC)

Tip
If a vendor sells a single copy back issue, only sales within the first 90 days after on-sale date can be included on the publisher’s statement.

The blue input cells should be completed as follows:

  • Cells B2 and B3 – Magazine and digital vendor names.
  • Columns A and B – Issue numbers and names. Each issue in the reporting period should be entered sequentially using as many rows as needed (and leaving the remaining rows blank).
  • Column C – The go-live date of each issue.
  • Column D – Replica or nonreplica status of each issue. Enter a 1 for Replica and a 0 for nonreplica.
  • Column H-P – Use one column for each monthly report that includes any issues in the reporting period. Begin with the first report that sells any copies of the first issue in the period (Example: For the June statement, the first report that sells any January issues).
  • Column Q – Use for any necessary adjustments to single copy sales.

Here’s a step-by-step breakdown for columns H through P:

Apple

  • Summary Method
    • In rows 9 and 10, enter the beginning and end dates of the Apple reports.
    • In row 16, enter the number of sales for each issue in the reporting period.
  • Detailed Method
    • Insert enough columns between O and P as issues in the period. All the formulas from column O should be copied into the new columns.
    • In rows 9 and 10, enter the beginning and end date of each issue’s go-live period.
    • In row 16, enter the number of sales (as calculated from Apple’s daily reports) for each issue in its appropriate row and column.

Amazon

Tip
If any column has a 0 in row 12 because of irregular frequencies, the spreadsheet cannot determine which issues the single-copy sales of that month should be assigned. In that case, use one of the adjustment columns (Q and R) to manually add the sales of that month to the appropriate issue.

  • Summary Method
    • In rows 9 and 10, enter the beginning and ending dates of the Amazon reports.
    • In row 11, enter the net single copies sold from Amazon’s reports.
    • In row 12, enter the number of issues with go-live dates in the reporting period.
  • Detailed Method
    • Insert enough columns between O and P as issues in the period. All the formulas from column O should be copied into the new columns.
    • Insert the same number of columns to the work area grid to the right of this section (the spreadsheet indicates where to insert the new columns. The formulas in those columns need to be copies into the new columns.
    • In rows 9 and 10, enter the beginning and end date of each issue’s go-live period.
    • In row 11, enter the number of sales for each issue as calculated from Amazon’s detailed reports.

Barnes & Noble

Tip
If you have a dark month, but single copies are sold during that month, leave the OTS SC as a "no" for the dark month and report the single-copy sales in the appropriate issue sold field based on "go live" and sales dates.

  • In row 10, enter the ending dates of the Barnes & Noble report.
  • In row 16, enter the sales for each issue into the appropriate row. Please note that as of this writing, the report shows cumulative information for the last three months of issues; therefore, each month’s reports should not be added together. Also, as previously noted, the data will not be complete for any issues still on sale at the end of the report month; keep this in mind when choosing which report to use for each issue.

The resulting calculations can be found in column E.

Paragraphs 1 and 6: The average single-copy sales for the period are shown in cell E14. This value should be added to the corresponding values from the print newsstand distributor’s reports.

Paragraph 3: The issue-by-issue values in columns E should be added to the corresponding values from the publisher’s fulfillment reports. If the publisher includes nonreplica circulation on the statement, the corresponding data is in column F.

Outside the System Digital Month-to-Month Subscriptions (OTS M2M SUB)

Tip
Cells B2 and B3 and Column A through D for each issue (beginning on row 16) are already pre-populated from the OTS SC tab.

The blue input cells should be completed as follows:

  • Columns H-N – Use one column for each monthly report that includes issues within this reporting period. For Apple and Amazon, begin with the report that covers the go-live date of the first issue within the AAM reporting period. For Barnes & Noble, begin with the latest report that includes that issue.
  • Columns O-Q – Use for any necessary adjustments to subscription copies served.
  • Column U – Magazine’s annual frequency at the time each issue is served. Enter for each issue.
  • Cell V6 and V7 – The number of subscriptions sold with premiums. Editorial premiums are entered in V6, all others in V7.
  • Column X – Monthly subscription price at the time each issue is served.
  • Column AC – Use for any necessary adjustments to average price such as a promotion including a premium.

Here’s is a step-by-step breakdown for columns H through N:

Apple and Amazon

Tip
If there is a reporting period without a go-live issue, row 14 will say YES and change to red. This indicates that the spreadsheet cannot determine how to assign the sales of that period.

  • Summary Method
    • In rows 8 and 9, enter the beginning and ending dates of the vendor reports.
    • In row 10, enter the net number of monthly subscriptions sold during the reporting period.
    • In row 11, enter the monthly subscription price during the reporting period.
    • In row 12, enter the magazine’s annual frequency as of that reporting period.
  • Detailed Method
    • Insert enough columns between M and N as issues in the period. All the formulas from column M should be copied into the new columns.
    • In rows 8 and 9, enter the beginning and end dates of each issue’s go-live period.
    • In row 10, enter the total number of subscriptions calculated from the appropriate vendor reports.
    • In rows 11 and 12, enter the monthly subscription price and the magazine’s annual frequency during the reporting period.

Barnes & Noble

  • In row 9, enter the ending dates of the Barnes & Noble reports.
  • In row 11, enter the monthly subscription price during the reporting period.
  • In row 12, enter the magazine’s annual frequency during the reporting period.
  • In row 16, enter the sales for each issue in the appropriate rows. Please note that as of this writing, the report shows cumulative information for the last three months of issues; therefore, each month’s reports should not be added together.

Tip
These digital OTS values should not be used in the June 2012 publisher’s statement because average price is calculated for a 12-month period on a six-month lag. The data for the January 2012 through June 12 issues will be used for the average price calculation on the December 2012 and June 2013 statements.

The resulting calculations can be found in column E:

Paragraphs 1 and 6: The average subscriptions served is shown in cell E14. This value should be added to the corresponding value from the publisher’s fulfillment reports.

Paragraph 3: The issue-by-issue values in column E should be added to the corresponding value from the publisher’s fulfillment reports. If the Publisher includes nonreplica circulation on their statement, the corresponding data is in column F.

Paragraph 2: Most fulfillment houses provide a report showing the total number of copies sold in the reporting period and the dollars attributed to them (net of premium values). This spreadsheet shows the amounts that should be added to both of those figures in AA7 and AD7, respectively. Once all the digital calculations have been added to the fulfillment house report, total dollars should be divided by total copies. That figure should then be multiplied by the publication’s annual frequency to calculate the average subscription price.

Paragraph 8: The grid in cells V4 through V8 shows the impact to paragraph 8. This data should be added to the corresponding data from the publisher’s fulfillment house reports.

Paragraph 8A: The formulas in this area take the number of copies served for each issue and convert them into the equivalent number of one-year subscriptions based on the publication’s annual frequency. For example, a monthly magazine with 1,200 copies served is the equivalent of 100 annual subscriptions.

Paragraph 8B: If premiums were used as an incentive for digital subscriptions, the quantity of subscriptions sold with a premium should be entered into cells V6 (editorial premiums) and V7 (all other premiums).

Paragraph 8C: All digital subscriptions are classified as direct action.

Outside the System Termed Subscriptions (OTS TERMED SUB)

As of this writing, only Apple and Amazon sell subscriptions on a termed basis. The sample vendor’s monthly reports only show subscriptions sold in that month.

Tip
Cells B2 and B3 and Column A through D for each issue (beginning on row 16) are already pre-populated from the OTS SC tab.

This template calculates the copies served based on monthly sales using data entered into columns H-AA, from a total of 18 monthly reports. The first column contains the monthly vendor report showing subscriptions which expired with the first issue in the statement filing period; the last column contains the report that shows subscriptions which started with the last issue in the statement filing period. Reports used for previous statements should be in columns H-T; reports used for the first time in this statement period should be in columns U-AA. Not all columns must be used.

The blue input cells should be completed as follows:

  • The length (term) of the subscription should be indicated in the grid in cells E2 through G5. Please enter a 1 in the appropriate row of column G for the term of the subscriptions sold, and 0 on the other two rows.
  • Columns AB-AD – Any necessary adjustments to subscription copies served.
  • Cell AI6 and AI7 – The number of subscriptions sold with premiums. Editorial premiums are entered in V6, all others in V7.
  • Column AP – Use for any necessary adjustments to average price such as a promotion including a premium.

Here’s a step-by-step breakdown for columns H through AA:

Tip
Only one term can be tracked on this sheet. If you have more than one term, please make a copy of this sheet to use for each term.

Summary Method:

  • In rows 8 and 9, enter the beginning and ending dates of the vendor reports.
  • In row 10, enter the net number of annual subscriptions sold during the reporting period.
  • In row 11, enter the annual subscription price during the reporting period.
  • In row 12, enter the magazine’s annual frequency as of the reporting period.

Tip
If there is a reporting period without a go-live issue, row 14 will say YES and change to red. This indicates that the spreadsheet cannot determine how to assign the sales of that period.

Detailed Method: You need enough columns to accommodate all the data periods that sold subscriptions that expire within the reporting period. It is possible that a weekly publication selling annual subs will have as many as 78 columns in this area with 52 columns in the reports used in previous statements section and 26 columns in the new reports this half section. Periods prior to the beginning of the statement period are between columns H-T (and should be added between S and T with the formulas in column S copied into the new columns) and periods within the current statement period are between current columns U and AA (and should be inserted between columns Z and AA with the formulas in columns Z copied into the new columns).

  • In rows 8 and 9, enter the beginning and ending dates for each issue’s go-live period.
  • In row 10, enter the total number of subscriptions calculated from the appropriate vendor reports.
  • In rows 11 and 12, enter the monthly subscription price and the magazine’s annual frequency during the reporting period.

Tip
Inserting new columns will change the letters on the column headings.

The resulting calculations can be found:

Paragraphs 1 and 6: The average subscriptions served is shown in cell E14. This value should be added to the corresponding value from the publisher’s fulfillment reports.

Paragraph 3: The issue-by-issue values in columns E should be added to the corresponding value from the publisher’s fulfillment reports. If the publisher includes nonreplica circulation on their statement, the corresponding data is shown in columns F.

Tip
These digital OTS values should not be used in the June 2012 publisher’s statement because average price is calculated for a 12-month period on a six-month lag. The data for the January 2012 through June 12 issues will be used for the average price calculation on the December 2012 and June 2013 statements.

Paragraph 2: Most fulfillment houses provide a report showing the total number of copies sold in the reporting period and the dollars attributed to them (net of premium values). This spreadsheet shows the amounts that should be added to both of those figures in AM7 and AQ7, respectively. Once all the digital calculations have been added to the fulfillment house report, the total dollars should be divided by the total copies. That figure should be multiplied by the publication’s annual frequency to calculate the average subscription price.

Paragraph 8: The grid in cells AI4 through AI8 show the impact to paragraph 8. This data should be added to the corresponding data from the publisher’s fulfillment house reports.

Paragraph 8A: Includes subscriptions sold from the reports used for the first time this half. The specific row in 8A depends on the entry in cells G3-G5. Subscriptions sold for a term of 12 months go in 8A(c); subscriptions sold for a term of two to six months go in 8A(a).

Pragraph 8B: If premiums were used as an incentive for digital subscriptions, the quantity of subscriptions sold with a premium should be entered into cells V6 (editorial premiums) and V7 (all other premiums).

Paragraph 8C: All digital subscriptions are classified as direct action.

Last Steps

Tip
These digital OTS values should not be used in the June 2012 publisher’s statement because average price is calculated for a 12-month period on a six-month lag. The data for the January 2012 through June 12 issues will be used for the average price calculation on the December 2012 and June 2013 statements.

After you have completed all the necessary OTS spreadsheets for the six-month period, the calculations from these templates can be added to the reports from the newsstand distributor or publisher’s fulfillment bureau for its print circulation. The completed OTS worksheets and their supporting vendor reports should be submitted to the ABC auditor as audit documentation.

  • Paragraph 3 – Single-copy sales by issue from column E of the OTS SC worksheets can be added together and reported as digital single-copy sales on the publisher’s statement. Subscriptions served by issue from column E of the various OTS subscription worksheets (M2M and term subscription) can be added together, and reported as digital subscriptions on the Publisher’s Statement.
  • Paragraph 1 – The average digital single copies sold, and average digital subscription served, by issue (calculated above) should be added to paragraph 1.
  • Paragraph 6 – Since paragraph 6 must balance to paragraph 1, the same subtotals added to paragraph 1 should also be added as digital circulation in paragraph 6. As noted earlier, if you sell digital sponsored copies, that circulation should be calculated in a separately from individually paid circulation so each type of circulation can be added to the appropriate row in paragraph 6 (Sponsored circulation is excluded from the calculations for paragraphs 2 and 8). Paragraph 8 – The values in cells AI5-AI8 from each of the OTS Subscription sheets for paragraph 8 should be added to the corresponding numbers from the fulfillment reports for print subscriptions. The combined total should be filed in paragraph 8 of the publisher’s statement.
  • Paragraph 2 –To calculate the average subscription price, the total copies sold (cell AM7), and the total dollars (cell AQ7), from the various OTS spreadsheets must be added to the corresponding data from the fulfillment house reports, then divided to derive the average per issue price. That figure is multiplied by the publication’s annual frequency to come to the average annualized subscription price.
  • Nonreplica sales – Reporting of digital nonreplica sales is optional. Contact your AAM publisher relations manager for guidance on how to include these on the statement. 

Inline Content