NUMBERS, PLEASE: After eight issues, how’s Portfolio selling? The answer has been guesstimated by nearly every magazine executive inside and outside Condé Nast. Sources close to the magazine with access to its closely guarded circulation data say the title since the beginning of the year has sold around 30,000 copies an issue on newsstands, with a sell-through rate in the upper teens. Executives both within and outside of Condé had put the magazine’s sell-through rate as high as 18 percent to as low as 8 percent. Meanwhile, Portfolio’s subscriptions are said to total over 300,000 to date.
Portfolio’s newsstand sales are within the range of its competitors’. For example, the biweekly Fortune sold an average of 32,000 copies per issue last year, according to Audit Bureau of Circulations figures.
A new magazine’s sell-through, the percentage of copies put on the newsstand that are actually sold, starts low because publishers will flood newsstands with issues for maximum visibility. As a title matures, the percentage usually increases as publishers adjust their distribution efficiency. Generally, a mature title will have a sell-through rate above 30 percent, while a successful new title averages more than 20 percent.
The current number is said to be below the expectations of executives at Condé Nast, who hope to increase sales by about 10,000 a month and boost sell-through into the mid-20s.
Portfolio’s covers this year have been decidedly more consumer friendly — the January issue featured its first human. The February issue with an image of an oversize burger is believed to have sold the strongest, despite creating headaches for a business side pitching luxury advertisers because of its down-market appearance.
The advertising side has one highlight ahead, though: It’s billing May as a special anniversary issue — for those keeping score, that’s since the magazine’s launch, though it hasn’t yet had 12 issues. The May issue also may have the first celebrity cover, though an unexpected one — Miley Cyrus (aka Hannah Montana) is being floated as an option to tie into a feature on Disney. A spokeswoman for Portfolio declined to comment on the circulation figures. As for the anniversary issue, she said, “We never discuss future stories or covers.” — Irin Carmon and Stephanie D. Smith
This story first appeared in the March 11, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
POWER TRIP: Barack Obama’s camp was quick to show senior adviser Samatha Power to the door for calling Hillary Clinton a monster last week. Not surprisingly, the Harvard Pulitzer Prize-winning author has been keeping a low profile since last week’s brouhaha. But apparently she is not above talking smack about herself.
In an interview in the current issue of Amtrak’s Arrive magazine, Power recalled her surprise at being invited to give a commencement speech in 2006: “Inexplicably, you chose me, a woman who was a decidedly average student in law school, who never took the bar exam and who, despite shelling out 100,000 bucks, still can’t quite decided what she wants to do with her life. I can’t imagine why, after three years in law school, any of you would identify with these particular qualities.”
Aside from winning a Pulitzer for her book “A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide,” landing on Time magazine’s Top Thinkers of 2004 list and inking a new book “Chasing the Flame: Sergio Vieira de Mello and the Fight to Save the World,” Power has played hoops with fellow Darfur activist George Clooney, “making her more than just the self-proclaimed ‘Genocide Chick.'”
Unlike the politics-based Q&A with Power Arrive executive editor Leigh Flayton wrote for Salon last month, the Arrive piece highlights her favorite Boston spots and runs with a shot of Power wearing a fur coat and hot pink scarf and walking on a Winthrop, Mass., beach. The story appears on the magazine’s back page, perhaps aptly named Final Stop.
— Rosemary Feitelberg
VROOM, VROOM: Ferrari has struck a deal with Condé Nast Contract Publishing (CNCP) to coproduce a magazine entirely dedicated to the high-performance Italian luxury car brand. According to the carmaker, Ferrari will consolidate its previous publishing activities into one global publication, which will be “editorially ground-breaking, with content specifically aimed at those high-income individuals who are owners of Ferrari cars around the world.”
In English, with an initial print run of 30,000 copies, the magazine will be directed by editor in chief Antonio Ghini — communications and brand management director at Ferrari for the last 15 years — who will be joined by editor Jason Barlow, a journalist who is also contributing editor for the motoring section of British GQ. The magazine’s director will be Rebecca Smith, formerly of British Vogue and creative director of Lula Magazine. Melinda Chandler, a former Condé Nast promotions director, will be the magazine’s advertisement director.
The magazine will be published four times a year near important events on the calendar. The first issue goes to print in late June, while the second will be put out in time for the Paris Motor Show at the end of September.
— Chiara Hughes