Magazine newsstand sales slip 5.6 percent; total circulation falls 2.3 percent

Monday, August 9, 2010

Magazine newsstand sales slip 5.6 percent

NEW YORK — U.S. magazine sales at newsstands and other retail outlets continued to slip in the first half of 2010, though the latest figures marked an improvement for an industry hard-hit by the recession.

So-called single-copy sales fell 5.6 percent to roughly 32.5 million in the January-June period compared with the previous year. The decline had been 9 percent in the last six months of 2009 and 12 percent in the first half of 2009, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations.

The single-copy sales at newsstands and other retailers are an important gauge because publishers charge full prices for them. Subscriptions are typically discounted so publishers can boost the overall circulation they can promise advertisers.

The number of magazine subscriptions fell 2 percent in the latest period to 267 million, making for an overall sales decline of 2.3 percent to about 314 million copies.

The downturn last year was painful for magazines. Along with circulation declines, the U.S. consumer magazine industry lost more than a quarter of its advertising pages, which constitute the main source of revenue at most publishers.

Although the latest figures show most titles continue to suffer at the newsstand, some saw the beginnings of a rebound in the first half of 2010.

Hearst Corp.’s Cosmopolitan, still the top seller, saw newsstand sales edge up 1.5 percent over the same period a year ago to 1.6 million copies.

People Stylewatch, published by Time Inc., was up 15 percent to more than 572,000 copies. Women’s Health, owned by Rodale Inc., jumped 10 percent to nearly 368,000, and Hearst’s Seventeen was up 5.8 percent to about 340,000.

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