"Dear Marvin, I love your magazine. My only complaint is that I have to wait three months for each new issue." Over the years, we have received hundreds of letters from many of you, all with the same theme: 90 days is too long between issues! We've also received many letters reporting that the magazine is frequently sold out at your favorite tobacconist or newsstand. It all adds up to a decision that had to be made.
Starting with the March 1997 issue, we will be coming out every other month--six times a year. I can make one promise: the high quality of the writing and photography will not change. We continue to be committed to producing the best magazine possible. In fact, the greater frequency will give us additional opportunities to expand our editorial content and give our readers greater in-depth coverage of everything from cigars to golf and Cognac to collectibles.
Cigar Aficionado's circulation continues to grow as increasing numbers of cigar smokers turn to our pages to learn everything they can about the pleasures of smoking a hand-rolled cigar. We are proud to say that Cigar Aficionado magazine has helped educate discriminating people to better understand everything about the basics of cigar appreciation: from selecting a cigar, to cutting and lighting it, to the complex and fascinating aspects of growing tobacco and rolling cigars.
And with this, our readership has soared. The December 1994 paid circulation was 141,000. By December 1995, the Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) pegged us at 241,000, a circulation increase of 100,000 readers, or 71 percent. We estimate that the issue you hold in your hand will have a paid circulation of 380,000 copies, up 139,000 from a year ago--an increase of 57 percent. By all accounts, our total readership today exceeds one million readers. Not bad for a magazine that everyone predicted would die after one issue.
Of course, the magazine's success is just a mirror image of the raging success of the cigar industry. For the first eight months of this year, premium cigar imports were at an annualized rate of increase of 59 percent, to a projected 1996 total of 280 million cigars. We can't revise our estimates of industry back orders fast enough to keep up with the overwhelming numbers; at last count, back orders exceeded 80 million cigars and were still climbing. In 1992, the entire market for premium hand-rolled cigars was around 100 million--equal to this year's projected increase! Astounding but true!
And that's why we are going to publish Cigar Aficionado six times a year. It's a different world, where people are demanding to know more and more about cigars and about the wonderful lifestyles that go along with enjoying a good smoke. We are committed to giving you the best. And we know you'll keep letting us know how we're doing.
P.S. Coming in January, Cigar Aficionado will be on the World Wide Web. Come visit us at http://www.cigaraficionado.com.