But Min's new contract left many media observers wondering whether she's worth the price. She is — at least based on her past performance at the magazine. Since she took the helm in 2003, Us Weekly's circulation has swelled to 1.8 million from 1.2 million. Newsstands sales have grown from 500,000 a week to about 1 million single copies, according to numbers by the Audit Bureau of Circulation. Year-to-date, ad pages for Us Weekly have grown 6.3 percent, to 1,153 pages. Meanwhile, Us Weekly and Min have earned spots in just about every industry trade magazine listing the best, hottest or brightest magazines and their editors.
That's all in the past, however. Naysayers say the magazine's newsstand growth isn't what it once was. Recent figures have its newsstand sales fluctuating between 800,000 and more than 1 million copies a week, according to several sources with access to scan data, while its average year-to-date is flat with 2006. (Us Weekly would not comment on its newsstand numbers before their release by ABC.) "We've had some spectacular sales, we've had a couple of bombs," admitted Min. "That's the nature of doing a weekly magazine." Of note: Sources with access to scan data said People's single-copy sales ranged between 1.4 million and 1.6 million this year, while In Touch has fluctuated between 1 million and 1.2 million.
Some wondered if an editor potentially commanding more than $2 million a year like Min should be allowed such newsstand unpredictability. "You'd hope by spending that much on an editor that they'd have complete consistency," commented one publishing executive.