In a sea of gloomy sales, there is hope on the horizon in the shape of the Independent's little brother – but scant evidence having a strong, free website makes much of a difference

Sometimes simple facts tell a simple story. The Independent's little brother, the 20p one they call "i", reports a sale of 304,691 copies a day in the ABC October returns. That is 44.08% up on October 2011, and 7.67% up on this September. Of course, there are familiar finagles to take into account here. Some bulk giveaway copies have been stripped from the Independent mother ship and pushed over to i. Nevertheless, in real sales, it's up nearly 60,000 in 12 months. A bright, quick read through the week has found a market. And so, especially, has one that costs only a fraction of its weightier competitors.

If it weren't for the i then October would look another totally wicked month for the national market: down in total some 8.69% on October last year.

Wince for the Daily Star and the dipping Sun (down 13.76% and 12.17% respectively). Fear for the Daily Express (down 13.19%), the Guardian (12.09%) and the Indie (with a walloping 40.05% of its customers gone, in part because of that in-house bulk gambit). There's not much for anyone's comfort here, though the Telegraph and FT gained a few copies month over month; but there is a clear message.

It doesn't seem to matter if you've got a strong, free website or not. The Mail, which has, lost almost 7% in print sales – against 13.19% at its rival Express, which makes barely any web effort. There's not much difference between a Telegraph with its free-to-UK readers appeal and a Times lurking behind a paywall. Nor evident sense that any orderly transition from print to digital exists. Media analyst Jasper Jackson was blogging the other day about how Fleet Street has seen circulations, daily and Sunday, fall by a quarter in the last five years, and he predicts similar results for the next five years – with an Indie on 31,000, a Guardian at 115,000 and so on.

Well, perhaps: and perhaps there is nothing to be done, whilst many papers struggle to discover viability on the net. But, in Britain at least, there's scant sign of an ordered process of change and salvation – just a slim but obviously satisfactory selection of i pages and graphics blowing in the wind on a railway platform near you.

Peter Preston © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds



Who's Online in Technology

We have 4 guests online