Diary: When sales figures are never as simple as ABC

Twice a year the magazine industry gears itself up for the release of the Audit Bureau of Circulations' sales figures.

Publishers spend the days surrounding the release of the results either putting good spin on bad results or indulging in a bit of one-upmanship with rival publishers.

It is also a busy time for the trade press. Retail Newsagent counts its ABC issue as one of its most profitable in terms of bringing in ad revenue, so it produces a 62-page supplement with ads from most major publishers. So one would expect the coverage to be spot on.

Alas, this year, while putting the results into an easy-to-digest table, a mistake was made in working out the year-on-year change in sales, which led to every year-on-year change being printed incorrectly.

As the stream of complaints from advertisers flowed in over the next few days, it became clear to the management that the only course of action would be to print eight pages of apologies in the following week's issue.