Data released by the Audit Bureau of Circulations at the end April was sad but unsurprising: over the previous six months, circulation at the Orange County Register of Santa Ana fell 7.9 percent to 230,877 for Monday through Friday editions and 3.7 percent to 300,273 on Sundays. But a Bay Area press club's tracking of circulation erosion at the state's top five newspapers over the previous decade was even more stark for Irvine-based Freedom Communications' flagship newspaper. Monday-Friday circulation at the Register was 367,003 during the same period in 1999, so the loss of 136,126 copies of the fish wrap to 230,877 by 2009 represented a whopping 37.1 percent drop.
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It's unclear whether those steep declines are represented in the readership formula the Register uses to claim on the ocregister.com "products/rates" page that the print edition's daily readership is 787,798 and 1,020,913 on Sundays. The same site's "advertise" page boasts, "Over 1.2 million adults have read OC Register print or online in the past week."