Some Consumer Mags Show Circulation Hikes, ABC Fas-Fax Report Shows

  • by February 21, 2006
When it comes to circulation figures, there are several roses amid the thorny gardens of the consumer magazine industry. New figures from the Audit Bureau of Circulations show that while many categories are filled with titles showing flat or decreased circulation, at least one magazine within many groups is performing head and shoulders above the rest.

The figures were released Monday in the ABC's Fas-Fax report, which contains unverified estimates of total circulation figures from the final six months of 2005.

For example, in the music magazine category, the venerable titles showed little or no growth, while Dennis Publishing's Blender, a relative newcomer, reported total paid circulation of 693,230--an almost 30 percent gain, mostly from subscriptions. By comparison, the much larger Rolling Stone (1.3 million circulation) showed only a 2.6 percent increase, while Vibe (836,611) was down 2.8 percent and Spin--which is reportedly up for sale--was down 5.3 percent to 540,901.



Among business magazines, there was an indication that readers are becoming more interested in online activity than in the traditional business world. Time Inc.'s Business 2.0 was the only title to show significant gains, reporting circulation of 673,457, a 19.3 percent increase over the same period the previous year. Meanwhile, McGraw-Hill's Business Week was down 0.3 percent to 988,068--while Forbes was up 0.3 percent to 927,202 and Fortune dropped 0.5 percent to 869,665. Smart Money was down to 809,038--a 0.8 percent drop.

The shelter category showed a similar trend. The winner in that group was Dwell, a quirky, California-based architecture and design magazine that continues to be a thorn in the side of the more established titles like Conde Nast's House & Garden and Hearst's House Beautiful. Dwell reported a 25.5 percent increase in circulation--up to 269,710--with much of the jump coming from subscriptions. H&G, meanwhile, was up only 0.4 percent to 922,482, and House Beautiful dipped 0.9 percent to 861,704. Meredith's Traditional Home was also down--reporting 981,752 copies, for a 1.1 decline. Hachette's Elle Décor was up, but only 1.5 percent to 508,343.

In the newsweekly category, the clear winner was Dennis Publishing's The Week--a runaway success with 366,758 copies for a whopping 58.3 percent increase, although its total numbers are still small compared to its competitors. The significantly larger Time dipped slightly (0.2 percent) to 4.026 million, while Newsweek was down 0.3 percent to 3.117 million and U.S. News & World Report was up 1 percent to 2.034 million.

In the men's category, Rodale's Best Life took top honors, showing a 45.1 percent gain with a six-month circulation of 333,720. Competitors also showed growth, but not as much. Conde Nast's GQ was at 854,155 for a 4 percent gain, and Details reported circulation of 426,239 for a 4.3 percent gain. Rodale's Men's Health was up 6.6 percent to 1.8 million--but Hearst's Esquire fell to 708,800 copies, a 0.5 percent decline.

Unlike those categories, celebrity magazines displayed the opposite trend. Most of the category's titles showed impressive gains, except for one. The National Enquirer, the granddaddy of all celebrity/gossip titles, was down 20 percent to 1.178 million copies. In comparison, Wenner Media's US Weekly was up 12.7 percent to 1.662 million, In Touch reported a 15.5 percent hike to 1.178 million, and Star was up 12.3 percent to 1.5 million. People, by far the largest in the category, also showed a slight uptick--1.1 percent to 3.691 million.

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