NEW YORK — For magazine editors and publishers far and wide, it was an embarrassing day Monday as the Audit Bureau of Circulations delivered its semiannual report on newsstand performance. If there was any positive way to look at it, it was that...
NEW YORK — For magazine editors and publishers far and wide, it was an embarrassing day Monday as the Audit Bureau of Circulations delivered its semiannual report on newsstand performance. If there was any positive way to look at it, it was that almost no one did particularly well.
At Condé Nast, the sole title that advanced more than 5 percent was Lucky, which at 220,000 copies was an increase of about 13,000 from last year’s 207,095. Meanwhile, sweeping drops hit Vanity Fair (minus 7.7 percent, to 371,000 from 402,000), Vogue (minus 9.4, to 429,000 from 474,000), Architectural Digest (minus 5.9, to 136,000 from 144,000), and Glamour, which fell an average of 117,000 copies per issue to 891,000, an 11.5 percent decline from last year’s 1,007,000.
Glamour wasn’t the only middle-market title whose numbers won’t give its editor and publisher 15 orgasms in 15 minutes. Hearst’s Marie Claire dropped 16.7 percent, to 519,000 from 623,000. Even the indefatigable Cosmopolitan got hit, plummeting 9 percent to 1,860,000 from 2,044,000.
“Between the weather, consumer confidence and the economy, everything’s been hit pretty hard,” said a spokeswoman for the Magazine Publishers Association of America. “There are also changes in traffic patterns. We are seeing less people shopping in supermarkets, where magazines are sold, and people are making more trips to warehouse clubs, where they’re not.”
Among the other core fashion titles, the winner was Harper’s Bazaar, which was up 10 percent to 172,000 from 156,000, while W, WWD’s sister publication, increased 3 percent to 52,000 from 50,000. In Style fell 4.8 percent, to 943,000 from 991,000, and Elle dropped 4.9 percent to 245,000 from 258,000. But even the drops in the fashion sector were nothing compared with what other categories experienced in the first half.
Even the up-to-now booming shelter titles suffered and it’s beginning to seem less about a general instinct toward nesting and more about Real Simple. Martha Stewart Living dropped 18.1 percent to 312,000 from 381,000. That’s no big surprise given Stewart’s much-publicized legal troubles. What was a surprise was that that actually wasn’t particularly bad as far as the sector went — Country Living, House & Garden, House Beautiful and Better Homes and Gardens all had drops of over 10 percent. Real Simple, meanwhile, was up 10 percent on newsstand, to 353,000 from 321,000.Also contributing to the industry’s malaise were SARS and the war in Iraq, both of which put a damper on travel and, by extension, sales at airport newsstands. And then there were subscription prices, which continued to get cheaper and cheaper and less and less profitable. Why should consumers pay $2.50 or more when they can get a subscription for 60 cents a copy?
That continued to be a problem in the teen market, as did more competition in the sector from newcomers like Cosmogirl, Teen Vogue and Ellegirl. At Seventeen, newsstand sales dropped 18.1 percent to 303,000 from 370,000 and Teen People sank 13.6 percent to 432,000 from 501,000, the first time since its first year that newsstand sales have gone below 500,000. But even they did better than YM, which sank a whopping 37.4 percent to 272,000 from 435,000. The drop also reflected an adjustment after the magazine was caught repeatedly inflating newsstand sales, a trend at several titles of parent Gruner + Jahr that was laid out in a series of WWD reports last spring and only recently by The Wall Street Journal. G+J, by the way, is headed by Dan Brewster, current chairman of the MPA.
Meanwhile, for fellow G+J title Family Circle, single copy sales dropped all the way to 1.15 million from 1.6 million, the worst among the six sisters, all of which dropped more than 10 percent each on newsstand.
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