“Print is dead.” This is quickly becoming one of the most well-used and clichéd phrases in the magazine publishing industry, not just because of the sheer number of articles debating this statement, but also given competing reports about declines in newsstand sales.
But defendants of print may be pleasantly surprised to hear that The Atlantic is printing a second run of its July/August issue due to popular demand. This is an unprecedented move at the 160-year-old publisher. It is the first time in modern history that The Atlantic has reprinted an issue.
Anna Bross, senior director of communications for The Atlantic, tells Folio: that the company printed 550,000 copies in the original run, and will now print an additional 25,000 copies.
The July/August issue, with the cover story “How American Politics Went Insane,” is on track to be the brand’s best-selling issue since at least 2009, selling twice as many copies as last year's July/August issue, according to a press release.
“At a time of troubling newsstand performance for many magazines, it was kind of thrilling to order up a second printing for this issue,” said Bob Cohn, president of The Atlantic, in a statement. “Even as our website attracts millions and millions of readers, we are especially gratified by the overwhelming response to the print magazine — particularly with its renewed emphasis on politics in this fascinating year.”
Copies from the second run of the issue are scheduled to hit newsstands during the national conventions.
Popular demand for this issue of The Atlantic reflects both consumers’ growing interest in politics and policy, and the importance publishers place on investing in the sector.
“People are seeking context and analysis in what is one of the most contentious and surprising modern-day elections. We’re seeing this in the traffic to the ‘Politics & Policy’ section of TheAtlantic.com, and in the demand for our politics-related cover stories,” Bross continues.
In January, The Atlantic began expanding its political coverage, gearing up for what was sure to be an interesting election year. Since then, it has tripled the size of its political reporting team. As a result, the brand has seen a 160 percent year-over-year increase in TheAtlantic.com “Politics & Policy” section audience.
A few weeks ago, The Atlantic announced a deeper commitment to its political coverage. The company sent its largest reporting and events teams to the Republican National Convention, currently ongoing, and will send said teams to the Democratic National Convention next week. The brand is producing 20 events at each convention.
“It’s significant that our first reprinting is happening as the conventions are now underway, and for a cover story which argues for a return to the establishment to cure political dysfunction. The Atlantic has long been about questioning commonly-held assumptions — this coverage is resonating,” Bross says.
Clearly, investing in politics is paying off for the brand. So far this year, its best performing covers have been politically oriented, with increased newsstand sales of 60 percent year-over-year for the June issue. The cover story for that issue was “The Mind of Donald Trump.”
“It’s a great sign for the industry,” Bross notes.
The Atlantic is not the only publisher using this election to its advantage. Many publishers, including Vice, BuzzFeed, and The Hill, are stocking up on political talent in the face of the upcoming election.
News syndicate Reuters also recently launched a special edition print magazine, “The American Voter,” to be handed out during the conventions.