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Cindi Leive’s Glamour has gotten off to a bumpy start in 2011. Condé Nast’s cash cow has dropped 17 percent off newsstand sales through the first four months of the year, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations Rapid Report.
For a magazine that sells at the high volume that it does — it is Condé Nast’s best seller off the newsstand — the drop is not an insignificant one. In all, with its $3.99 newsstand price, Glamour is off about $1.5 million in newsstand revenue alone for the first third of the year.
Last year, the monthly sold an average of 550,900 copies through the first four months of the year; this year it has averaged 459,000. May and June numbers have not yet been released — a Glamour spokeswoman declined to give WWD internal stats — but May is likely to be off significantly as well. Last year, Glamour had its best-selling issue of the year in May when it sold 675,000 copies with Lauren Conrad on the cover. (A spokeswoman did say, however, that June projects to sell about 5 percent better than last year’s June issue.)
Leive said the newsstand drop is “no secret” and her editorial team is “1,000 percent focused on it.” They had a big off-site meeting to try to wrap their heads around it, she said.
“We are a huge magazine and we’re a huge business,” Leive said. “But let’s be honest, you don’t stay on top without turning up the heat occasionally. Right now, it’s all about the newsstand.”
This year, Glamour’s cover subjects have been Reese Witherspoon, Kim Kardashian, Diane Kruger, Kate Winslet, Emma Stone and Olivia Wilde. Leive said there’s been a lot more focus in the last few weeks on who to book for the cover, how to style them, how to lay out the cover and what type of stories to blurb on it.
“We’re looking at the sales for the first couple months of this year and we’re thinking, ‘Geez, we’ve got to fight even harder to keep these girls,’” she said. “It’s the classic thing. A girl has 1.7 seconds at the newsstand to make her decision about your magazine. Are we using that 1.7 seconds as well as we should? If we need to do that more ferociously and with different people and different topics, then we will.”
Glamour isn’t alone in its newsstand travails either. Other fashion magazines have had a mixed year as well. Through the first four months of the year, Vogue is up an impressive 24 percent; Cosmopolitan is up slightly in the single-digit percentage points, and Elle is down roughly 7 percent. Then there are those whose data have been released only for the first three months of the year: InStyle is also slightly up in single-digit percentage points, while Marie Claire and Harper’s Bazaar — magazines whose newsstand sales combined are still less than one average Glamour issue on the newsstand — are down 17 percent and 29 percent, respectively, according to ABC data (the Rapid Report provides data provided by publishers and has not yet been audited by ABC).
For the July issue, which is on newsstands now, Leive put Blake Lively on the cover, and there are high hopes for that to kick off a turnaround.
“If you look at what works for us, it’s not the same stuff that used to work for us,” said Leive. “My top seller of last year was Lauren Conrad. My top seller this year is Kim Kardashian. Although I have hopes that Blake Lively’s nude picture scandal will put her over the edge. Just kidding, Blake.”
But then again.…