During the historic 2008 presidential campaign, magazine publishers—from Time and Newsweek to Mad and Der Spiegel—blanketed the newsstand with covers featuring Barack Obama.
And with good reason. Readers and collectors bought Obama covers at an unprecedented rate, selling out on the newsstand and forcing many weeklies and monthlies to print second, third and even fourth runs.
Time, for one, said newsstand sales for its commemorative election issue and Person of the Year issue shattered the magazine’s own single copy sales records. The November 17 election issue sold an estimated 575,000 single copies—or nearly five times as many copies as an average issue—forcing the magazine to go back to print four times. Time projected that its Person of the Year issue will sell 70 percent more copies than the average Person of the Year issues, making it the biggest-selling cover in the history of the franchise. (One survey of 1,000 college students by Anderson Analytics, found that Time ranked as their number one magazine read, displacing perennial winner Cosmo and People. The reason, according to Anderson? Obama.)
Johnson Publishing’s Ebony said that its January issue featuring Obama recorded the highest single copy sales in the magazine’s 67-year history. To be exact, it sold 405,000 copies off the newsstand—or more than double an average January issue.
Publishers looked to further capitalize on the Obama-crazed, print-buying public with special editions, annuals—even books. In November, Newsweek rushed an 84-page issue—carrying a $7.95 cover price—to newsstands. It remained there through February.
Paste launched a mini-site, Obamicon.me, where users could upload photos and create their own versions of the Obama “Hope” poster. Within a week, the site generated 1.5 million unique visitors—more than Paste’s own Web site averages in a month. [SEE: Paste]
VITAL STATS: Time’s November 17 election issue sold nearly five times as many copies as an average issue.