The issue of “Bulk Sales” is being feverously discussed across the pond due to some six national titles having to revise their monthly circulation figures downwards. This happened when the ABC noticed that the claimed bulk figures for the titles were higher than the the actual – you can read more in the Media Guardian on the topic.

But what’s the level of bulks here and who uses them? The answer is a little difficult as the reporting of circulation figures for the those who (kindly enough) release monthly data differs slightly from those who report six monthly. The only level ground between the two reports is that they all report the number of copies that they sell at the “basic cover price”, so that’s what I used as a comparison.

The gap between the Average Net per issue and copies sold at BCP is made up primarily of bulks, but also includes newstrade at below BCP, issue specific bulks and copies sold outside the Republic and the UK. Some papers have a much larger subscription base than others and that has a tendency to distort the picture slightly.

But for a quick analysis the table below gives an indication of the usage of bulks. The copies that are below BCP are ones that are usually found cluttering up the reception areas of hotels etc. The circulation breakdown shows where these copies end up – airlines and hotels being the big recipients.

Title Circ @BCP % @ BCP
Irish Independent 152,204 127,992 15.9%
Irish Times 114,488 100,714 12.0%
Examiner 50,346 49,281 2.1%
Daily Mirror 64,997 64,997 0.0%
Daily Record 2,332 2,332 0.0%
Daily Star 100,112 99,837 0.3%
The Sun 96,448 96,448 0.0%
Daily Express 3,706 3,706 0.0%
Daily Mail 48,714 48,204 1.0%
The Daily Telegraph 3,273 3,273 0.0%
Financial Times 3,684 3,394 7.9%
The Guardian 4,371 4,246 2.9%
The Independent 1,487 1,487 0.0%
The Times 3,023 3,023 0.0%
Total 649,185 608,934 6.2%
Evening Herald 71,187 65,633 7.8%
Echo 24,192 24,032 0.7%
Total 95,379 89,665 6.0%
Sunday Independent 272,174 249,409 8.4%
Sunday World 277,504 276,806 0.3%
Sunday Tribune 65,727 56,740 13.7%
Sunday Business Post 57,783 57,320 0.8%
Daily Star – Sunday 57,245 51,863 9.4%
News of the World 136,916 136,916 0.0%
Sunday Mail 6,698 6,698 0.0%
Sunday Mirror 41,724 41,724 0.0%
The People 23,527 23,527 0.0%
Sunday Express 5,134 5,134 0.0%
Sunday Post 942 942 0.0%
The Mail on Sunday 101,031 100,511 0.5%
Independent on Sunday 1,963 1,963 0.0%
The Observer 9,762 9,736 0.3%
The Sunday Telegraph 2,773 2,773 0.0%
The Sunday Times 111,584 111,584 0.0%
Total 1,172,487 1,133,646 3.3%
Market Total 3,834,102 3,664,490 4.4%

Some papers have a huge reliance on bulks. Of the 152,204 copies claimed as circulation, the Irish Independent had 17,905 (12%) as regular bulks and 3,858 (2.5%) at newstrade but below BCP (subscriptions?).