2011 did not end on a good note for magazines. According to Audit Bureau of Circulations, the industry was down an average of 10 percent, WWD is reporting.
And that’s not even the worst of it. Some fashion titles fell much harder. Allure, for instance, was down 13.3 percent to 130,901, while InStyle, despite the highest single-copy average during the period, showed a 14.2 percent decrease over the prior year. Elle fared the worst, with an 18.3 percent drop in newsstand.
Other glossies didn’t get hit quite so hard, but the picture is still bleak. WWD reports:
Glamour was at the industry average, selling an average of 469,544 copies. Marie Claire wasn’t far behind, falling 8.9 percent to 231,054 and W’s newsstand was down 7.4 percent to 20,426. Harper’s Bazaar’s single-copy sales fell 7.3 percent to 147,194. Vogue was down 5.6 percent to 348,850 and Lucky down 5.5 percent to 159,266.
Things aren’t going much better for celebrity weeklies either. As a group the six top weekly magazines’ newsstand dropped 14% last year from 2010, according to The Wall Street Journal. Besides the shaky economy, fewer trips to the grocery store, and the abundance of celebrity news sites, mean customers are picking up less issues.
And here’s no surprise: A member of the Kardashian family appeared on one of every six celebrity-weekly cover stories in 2011, and was a top-five seller for four of the six major titles. Looks like we won’t be getting rid of them any time soon…
What is surprising, though, is that issues featuring reality TV B-list stars, like the cast of Teen Mom, are faring better than covers dedicated to A-listers like J.Lo, and Heidi Klum. Apparently, celebrities fail to churn out sufficient drama–their publicists wouldn’t allow it, of course. Reality TV stars, on the other hand, are an open book. “You know reality TV stars will tell you every detail about their life,” said Richard Spencer, editor of American Media’s OK! magazine and Reality Weekly. And that’s apparently what readers want these days.
The other thing that’s not resonating with readers is “uplifting stories.” Depressing. Yep, it seems, drama in the magazine world, as in reality TV, is still king.