Despite continued high hopes for the post-recession period, the magazine industry limped through the second half of 2011. ABC’s second-half 2011 FAS FAX reports total paid circulation stayed basically flat from second half 2010 to second half 2011, down about one percent from 305.5 million to 302.45 million. Subscription numbers fared slightly better, up less than one percent from second half 2010’s 260.59 million to second half 2011’s 262.47 million total paid subs.
Single copies suffered the most in the last six months of 2011, declining almost 10 percent from second half 2010’s 32.1 million sales to second half 2011’s 28.9 million.
Some standout highs (and lows) from ABC’s FAS FAX: southern lifestyle magazine Garden & Gun’s single copy sales leaped almost 46 percent in second half 2011 to 20,083. Afar’s total paid and verified numbers shot up almost 73 percent to 140,708 in the last six months of 2011.
On the other side of the scale, Soap Opera Digest’s total paid and verified numbers fell 40 percent to 292,219 in second half 2011. ESPN The Magazine’s single copy sales dropped 39 percent in the last six months of 2011 to 12,313 copies.
The men’s category saw mixed results in the last six months of 2011. Details had a 15 percent decrease in single copy sales from the same period in 2010, down from 49,459 to 42,034. Its total paid and verified total decreased as well, falling to 1.6 percent to 453,246 in second half 2011.
GQ saw paid and verified subscription numbers increase 4.5 percent to 980,254 in second half 2011. However, Hearst’s men’s title saw a 13.8 percent drop in single copy sales: second half 2010’s 204,638 single sales decreased to 176,312 sales in second half 2011.
Playboy’s total paid and verified subs also stayed relatively flat, with a one percent decline. The magazine’s single copy sales dropped 8 percent, from second half 2010’s 105,046 to second half 2011’s 96,610. Penthouse endured a tough last six months of 2011, with total paid and verified subs down 21 percent to 123,594. Single sale copies were down about 21.5 percent to 48,052 in second half 2011.
The magazines of iconic media moguls Martha Stewart and Oprah Winfrey both saw a substantial drop in newsstand sales: Martha Stewart Living numbers fell 17.1 percent, while those of O, the Oprah Magazine plunged by 32 percent.
Every Day with Rachael Ray saw a more subtle decline in single copy sales, at 3.8 percent, while elsewhere in the food category, Martha Stewart’s Everday Food retail sales dropped 25.5 percent, despite a 1.9 percent increase in total circulation. Food Network Magazine, a category leader in growth, gained 16.3 percent in newsstand sales, contributing to a 16.4 percent overall rise in total circulation. Meanwhile, Taste of Home experienced a downslide at the newsstand, with a 29.3 percent decrease in single copy sales.
Newsweekly competitors TIME and Newsweek both experienced a moderate decrease in total circulation, at .5 and 1.8 percent respectively. TIME’s single copy sales dropped 3.4 percent, while Newsweek’s bumped up a slight .3 percent.
The business magazine category has been largely challenged at the newsstand: The Economist sales fell 12.8 percent, Fortune’s numbers dropped 16.8 percent, SmartMoney lost 17.1 percent, and Bloomberg Businessweek fell 9.4 percent. Gainers in the category include Harvard Business Review, which saw an 11.8 percent increase in single copy sales, and Fast Company, with a 5.5 percent jump.
The Hispanic magazine category has shown mixed results: while newsstand sales for Cosmopolitan en Español plummeted by 41.6 percent, Latina and Siempre Mujer saw 31.6 percent and 28.7 percent increases respectively. Single copy sales for People en Español also dropped, by 10.6 percent.