An early peak at First Quarter newsstand numbers shows a slowing decline in U.S. magazine sales, but also an ominous portent.
Noting that retail sales of gossip-oriented titles are in the tank, industry consortium MagNet told its affiliates this week that, "One of the major hurdles affecting weekly celebrity publications is the ability to find new celebrities and subject matter that consumers are interested in discovering."
Brad & Angie don't cut it. Early sales data for editions of People and OK! featuring the couple's recent engagement, MagNet said, "indicate that both issues will produce sales results at least twenty percent less than previous issues' average sales," MagNet said.
That's a huge disappointment to many in the industry who were hoping for yet another boost from Brangelina. (For the record, we at Dead Tree Edition never considered the engagement big news: After having six children, the couple has obviously been engaged in something for quite a while.)
"Late in the fourth quarter of 2011, we started to see a slowing of the downward sales trend for magazines," MagNet reports. Led by non-weekly titles, the trend continued in the First Quarter of 2012. The overall decline in dollars from a year ago was an estimated 5.6%, versus the 10% year-over-year declines typical of 2011.
One of the big successes was the April issue of National Geographic featuring the Titanic, which is on track to sell nearly 200,000 copies, more than 50% above the three previous issues. (Note: The cover story was about the real Titanic, the one that sank 100 years ago, not the Hollywood version, in which celebrities swim about in water frigid enough to cause immediate muscle spasms while spouting inanities like "Promise me you'll survive.")
If disasters, not celebrities, are now the key to retail success, will we be seeing a lot of cover stories about the U.S. Postal Service?
Other articles about retail sales of magazines include: