2011 single copy sales numbers: What it tells us

It’s clearly not over yet.

The latest Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) report, which showed accelerated declines, hints at the continued and myriad challenges facing the industry.

New figures released this week by the ABC show an overall 10% drop in single copy sales of magazines for the second half of 2011, compared with the same period in 2010.  Subscriptions rose a very modest .07%, hardly enough to make up the difference.

Celebrity and women’s titles were among the biggest newsstand losers, with OK!  WEEKLY* falling more than 27%, VANITY FAIR* taking a nosedive of more than 20%, and even PEOPLE* down 12%.

And it’s not just gossip and glitz that took a hit.  Despite growth in subscriptions, THE ECONOMIST* dropped 13% and FORTUNE* sales fell another 17%.

Bright spots (and oh, how we need those) included niche and Hispanic magazines, where there still seems to be room for growth.

Also, publishing phenomenon GARDEN & GUN* saw single copy sales shoot up by nearly 46%.  Sales of Time Inc’s ALL YOU* rose by 15%, LATINA* increased more than 31% and SIEMPRE MUJER jumped by almost 28%.  Publications aimed at hobbyists and enthusiasts held up well as a category.

Titles tied to television shows and personalities had mixed results, and prove it’s risky to link a magazine with the fortunes of another medium or person.  Success story FOOD NETWORK MAGAZINE* gained more than 16% at the newsstand.  In contrast, O, THE OPRAH MAGAZINE* plummeted 32% and MARTHA STEWART LIVING* dropped 17%, now that neither woman has a signature television show.  ESPN THE MAGAZINE* fell 39%, and with soap operas a disappearing genre, SOAP OPERA DIGEST* was down 40%.

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