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Woman’s World Dethrones Cosmopolitan as the Single Copy Sales Queen… and the Facts Behind the Magazine Circulation Figures

August 7, 2013

WomansWorldCosmo There is a new queen ruling the newsstands. Woman’s World has dethroned Cosmopolitan as the number one selling magazine on the newsstands on an issue by issue basis. The latest figures released by the AMM (The Alliance for Audited Media) shows Woman’s World single copy sales at 1,103,996 compared with Cosmo’s 1,028,892. No wonder Bauer, publisher of Woman’s World, is readying to launch Closer, another woman’s lifestyle magazine this fall.

However, with every release of the circulation numbers of the audited consumer magazine titles, media pundits and reporters apply their own interpretations to the numbers. The numbers are “flat, plummeted or increased” depending on the messenger. The same message was told and delivered by different harbingers and in some cases offered an interpretation as different as black and white. Folio: magazine announced that the numbers were flat; Publishing Executive announced that the numbers plummeted; the MPA, in a release by its president and CEO Mary Berner, downplayed the numbers and rightly focused on the total picture of the increased magazine media audiences. So what gives?

If all the media are reporting on the same numbers, what went wrong and what goes wrong every time numbers are released? Is it that hate-love relationship we have with numbers? And why is Hearst Magazine celebrating the numbers with their record circulation figures? Their numbers show record circulation figures for all their combined titles.

Why are Better Homes and Gardens, Woman’s Day, Food Network, etc. etc., showing an increase in circulation numbers at the time Woman’s World celebrates dethroning Cosmopolitan as the number one selling magazine on the nation’s stands for the first time in recent history?

Why is Meredith launching Allrecipes.com a new print magazine based on a website? And is their really room for another weekly women’s lifestyle magazine coming this fall from Bauer? Closer will be joining the ranks of Woman’s World, In Touch and Life & Style weeklies, making Bauer the only publisher to introduce four weeklies in the last few years.

Also, if the numbers are so bad, why are Hearst, Meredith and Bauer launching these new print magazines? It is about time to celebrate our industry, to light a candle rather than cursing the dark (in this case the decline in single copy sales, which Ms. Berner reminds us is less than 10% of the total magazine circulation).

With this in mind, and with the recent sale of Newsweek, The Boston Globe and The Washington Post, it appears, regardless of what some media pundits may say or write, there is still hope for print and folks are latching onto print to validate their virtual presence. Print is still, by far, generating more stories, more news, more emotions, more reactions that any digital platform. The problem in not with print or with numbers, the problem is with the folks who have preconceived ideas of the future of print. They are writing to fit their preconceived notions.

NOW, for a fun sidebar, during my visit to Lebanon, I visited my childhood newsstand on the main square in Tripoli, which has been operating at the same location since I can recall, and I was able to buy a few newspapers and a magazine. You ask which magazine? Newsweek, my friends; a printed edition of Newsweek. As I mentioned earlier, the magazine is still alive and kicking in the rest of the world. Enjoy the video below and keep in mind, when we were told it is “# last print issue,” that too was not true! Have fun.

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