Memo Pad: Numbers, Please... Power Trip... Vroom, Vroom

After eight issues, how's Portfolio selling? The answer has been guesstimated by nearly every magazine executive inside and outside Conde Nast.

NUMBERS, PLEASE: After eight issues, how's Portfolio selling? The answer has been guesstimated by nearly every magazine executive inside and outside Condé Nast. Sources close to the magazine with access to its closely guarded circulation data say the title since the beginning of the year has sold around 30,000 copies an issue on newsstands, with a sell-through rate in the upper teens. Executives both within and outside of Condé had put the magazine's sell-through rate as high as 18 percent to as low as 8 percent. Meanwhile, Portfolio's subscriptions are said to total over 300,000 to date.

Portfolio's newsstand sales are within the range of its competitors'. For example, the biweekly Fortune sold an average of 32,000 copies per issue last year, according to Audit Bureau of Circulations figures.

A new magazine's sell-through, the percentage of copies put on the newsstand that are actually sold, starts low because publishers will flood newsstands with issues for maximum visibility. As a title matures, the percentage usually increases as publishers adjust their distribution efficiency. Generally, a mature title will have a sell-through rate above 30 percent, while a successful new title averages more than 20 percent.

The current number is said to be below the expectations of executives at Condé Nast, who hope to increase sales by about 10,000 a month and boost sell-through into the mid-20s.

Portfolio's covers this year have been decidedly more consumer friendly — the January issue featured its first human. The February issue with an image of an oversize burger is believed to have sold the strongest, despite creating headaches for a business side pitching luxury advertisers because of its down-market appearance.

The advertising side has one highlight ahead, though: It's billing May as a special anniversary issue — for those keeping score, that's since the magazine's launch, though it hasn't yet had 12 issues. The May issue also may have the first celebrity cover, though an unexpected one — Miley Cyrus (aka Hannah Montana) is being floated as an option to tie into a feature on Disney. A spokeswoman for Portfolio declined to comment on the circulation figures. As for the anniversary issue, she said, "We never discuss future stories or covers." — Irin Carmon and Stephanie D. Smith
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