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The Whitney Houston Effect

The celebrity newsstand titles that featured the former pop star on their covers following her death pulled in larger-than-average sales, according to sources.

THE WHITNEY EFFECT: Pictures of Whitney Houston blanketed newsstands this week, as just about every celebrity title had the former pop star on its cover following her death in a Beverly Hills hotel room on Feb. 11. The numbers are in and it appears the last-minute scramble for coverage of Houston’s life and death resulted in larger-than-average sales for those titles that had her image on the cover, according to industry sources.

People magazine’s “Triumph & Tragedy” cover, for example, was its best-selling issue of the year so far, with 1.5 million copies sold, sources said. Us Weekly’s cover featuring Houston’s “Sad Final Days” resulted in sales of 710,000 issues, a bump over the same week last year.

This story first appeared in the February 23, 2012 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

In Touch featured a smiling Houston with a microphone in her hand, next to the phrase “She Could Have Been Saved.” The issue sold 625,000 copies on the newsstand. Life & Style’s cover was dominated by Kim Kardashian, but it still featured a smaller cover picture of Houston and sold 420,000 copies.

It didn’t seem to matter whether Houston’s picture was big or small, the angle depressing or positive, only that Houston appeared on the cover. Star’s morose “Don’t Let Me Die” cover sold 500,000 copies. The only weekly not to put Houston on its cover was OK, which instead featured a large picture of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. There was no mention of Houston, apparently due to the title’s early publishing schedule. The issue sold north of 250,000 copies, according to a spokesman, although some sources said early estimates put the number just above 200,000.

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