SEPTEMBER COVER STARS AND SLIPS: A picture can say a thousand words, and when it comes to a cover, it may say even more.
This story first appeared in the December 9, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
While the newsstand may be ailing, when it comes to September, fashion, beauty and luxury-centric magazines are still aware of its importance. According to newly released newsstand sales numbers by the Alliance for Audited Media, Cosmopolitan won the September issue battle with 698,500 total single-copy sales for its cover featuring Lucy Hale. InStyle came in second with sales of 503,400 copies for its Julia Roberts cover, followed by Vogue, which featured models Joan Smalls, Cara Delevingne and Karlie Kloss on its cover, which sold 359,703 copies.
While Cosmo won the battle, it isn’t exactly winning the war. In September, the title logged total single-copy sales of 1.1 million. That means that in the 12 months to September 2014, sales have declined 35.1 percent at the newsstand.
Although Cosmo editor in chief Joanna Coles has referred to the newsstand in previous interviews as “dying,” she told WWD on Monday that the bankruptcy of wholesale distributor Source Home Entertainment over the summer played a role in the decline.
“No doubt the bankruptcy has played into it,” she said, adding that “new fixturing” at Wal-Mart Stores In. has also impacted retail sales of the largest magazines, as well as the “inevitable flight toward the Web.”
Despite those challenges, the editor said the magazine is having a very strong year.
Cosmo isn’t alone, though, in suffering on the newsstand. InStyle’s single-copy sales fell 26.5 percent in September, and Vogue’s sales declined 28.1 percent, while Glamour, which came in fourth in newsstand sales with 260,416 with its Olivia Wilde cover, nonetheless saw sales plummet 49.7 percent from September 2013.
Returning to September 2014, Vanity Fair’s Natalia Vodianova cover, which sold 193,003 copies, wasn’t too far behind its Condé Nast cousin Glamour. While Seventeen magazine sold 189,500 copies featuring Ariana Grande, edging out sister publications Elle — which had Kristen Stewart on its cover and sold 178,000 copies — and Marie Claire, which sold 168,500 with Blake Lively. Harper’s Bazaar sold 164,500 copies with a variety of newsstand covers shot by Carine Roitfeld. The global fashion director put together a portfolio of what she deemed to be iconic women. Her U.S. newsstand covers included Lady Gaga, Penélope Cruz and Linda Evangelista.
Men’s magazines GQ and Esquire made their mark next. GQ sold 125,954 copies with its Adam Driver cover and Esquire nabbed 106,500 single-copy sales with its issue featuring Chris Pratt. Allure (82,276 with Chloë Grace Moretz), Lucky (77,115 with Dakota Fanning) and Teen Vogue (72,619 with Kendall Jenner) followed suit.
Although not a fashion title, Town & Country, which carries a fair amount of luxury advertisers, corralled 54,500 single-copy sales with Naomi Watts on the cover.
The lowest sales belonged to Condé Nast titles Details and W, with 35,277 copies and 31,963 copies, respectively. Details featured actor Idris Elba, while W showcased Rihanna, dubbing the entertainer “The World’s Wildest Style Icon.” W editor in chief Stefano Tonchi said of the newsstand sales figure, “W takes great pride in our success as a subscriber-based magazine. Our September 2014 issue featuring Rihanna did extremely well with a newsstand sell-through rate of over 45 percent and digital page views up over 95 percent year-over-year.”
On the bright side, Details saw September sales fall only 0.8 percent over last year, while W saw its newsstand sales dip 4.9 percent. It should be noted that W is not known as a major player on the newsstand.
While total single-copy sales incorporate print and digital sales, the AAM also released a report highlighting the top 25 digital gainers in September by total paid, verified circulation. Of that bunch, Shape had the highest digital circulation that month with 230,000, marking a 139 percent increase. The biggest percent change, however, went to In Touch Weekly, which experienced a 2,223 percent rise to 9,685.