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Newsstand sales of consumer magazines slump

Publishers reported 28.9 million single-copy sales in the second half of 2011, 10% less than the number sold a year earlier.

February 08, 2012|By Tiffany Hsu, Los Angeles Times

With the presidential primaries, the Occupy movement, continued unrest in the Middle East and the Kim Kardashian wedding disaster, it's not as if there was a shortage of news in the second half of 2011. But you wouldn't know it looking at newsstand sales for the nation's magazines.

Single-copy sales of consumer magazines took a major hit in the second half of last year, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations. Publishers sold 28.9 million newsstand copies, 10% less than the number sold over the same period in 2010.

Women's and celebrity rags especially suffered. All three of the highest-volume publications slipped, with Cosmopolitan down 6.7%, Woman's World 8.3% and People 12%.

Other major titles, including InStyle, National Enquirer and Vanity Fair, endured double-digit plunges as stores pushed magazine racks into less-trafficked aisles and consumers resisted impulse buys. Newsstand sales for O, the Oprah Magazine, dived 32%.

Blame it on the Internet? A survey from Pew Research Center shows that 47% of American adults now get at least some of their news on a smartphone or tablet computer.

Meanwhile, paid and verified circulation for magazine subscriptions slumped 1%.

AARP, which produces 22 million copies each of its two monthly publications — AARP the Magazine and AARP Bulletin — saw paid circulation slump nearly 6%.

There were some bright spots. Video game publication Game Informer saw a 48% jump in circulation to 7.5 million.

And some magazines that did not do so well at newsstands had an increase in circulation when subscriptions were included. Among them: Cosmopolitan and Glamour.

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