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EARLY LOOK AT NUMBERS: For most magazines, circulation figures in publishing have flattened in recent years, with single-copy sales especially challenged as consumers spend more time away from the newsstands and in front of other distractions, like their computer screens. Though figures for 2008’s second half won’t be available until mid-February from the Audit Bureau of Circulations, a cursory look at newsstand data through November posted on ABC’s Rapid Report provides some hints. O, The Oprah Magazine, Glamour, W, Marie Claire and Teen Vogue all posted double-digit declines in single-copy sales for those five months (December issues weren’t available as of Friday).
Oprah Winfrey’s eponymous magazine sold a million fewer copies for the five issues in the period, a 26 percent drop in sales compared with 2007. During that time, the title appointed a new editor in chief, Susan Reed, and its cover strategy changed to some extent. In recent weeks, Winfrey revealed on television and in the magazine’s January issue that she felt so insecure about having gained back 40 pounds last year that she never allowed her full body to be photographed for any of the covers. (Perhaps readers wanted to see more of her anyway, no matter what her size.)
Teen Vogue is facing a 23 percent drop in single-copy sales for the same five issues, and Glamour, which underwent a makeover in August to help reenergize the title, sold 614,000 fewer issues from July to November, a 16 percent decline. Through November, W was on track to sell 14 percent fewer copies than last year, while Marie Claire was tracking to sell 11 percent fewer and Cosmopolitan was on pace to sell 10 percent less. Sales of Elle through November were off 7 percent compared with the same period in 2007, Vogue was off 5 percent and Lucky was down 4 percent.
Nevertheless, some positive news could emerge: Vanity Fair sold 84,000 more issues for the five months than in 2007. And In Style, which also unveiled a redesign this fall, was tracking up slightly compared with a year ago. — Stephanie D. Smith