24 of Top 25 Magazines Show Newsstand-Sales Decreases in First Half

Subscriptions and Total Circulation Figures Hold Steady

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Newsstand sales took their sharpest dive of the recession yet in the first half of the year, the semiannual report from the Audit Bureau of Circulations revealed today. Single-copy sales, hurt not just by the economy but also a temporary disruption at magazine wholesalers, fell 12.4% from a year earlier, following year-over-year declines of 11.1% in the second half of 2008 and 6.3% in the first half of 2008.

Twenty-four of the top 25 newsstand sellers posted declines in the first half of 2009, according to the audit bureau, including top seller Cosmopolitan, down 7.8% from the first half of 2008. The lone gainer in the top 25 was Real Simple, which posted a 1.2% increase.

Total paid and verified circulation, however, slipped just 1.2% as subscriptions held their ground, gaining 0.6%, and publishers reduced their use of verified copies, which are distributed free in public places such as doctors' offices, by 3.9%.

Among big magazines (those that report paid and verified circulations over 100,000 copies), 10 of the top 25 posted top-line gains, including the biggest, AARP the Magazine, where overall paid circulation rose 2.8% to 24.6 million.

The biggest top-line gainers included Global Traveler, up 48.3% to 106,654 copies; Off-Road Adventures, up 31.1% to 108,654; Women's Health, up 29.7% to 1.5 million; Hobby Farms, up 29.7% to 126,270; and Taste of Home Healthy Cooking, up 29.4% to 759,472.

The newsstand damage had been anticipated for a first half whose chief bright spot was somber and temporary: special tributes and extra editions devoted to Michael Jackson.

Top 25 U.S. consumer magazines by total paid and verified circulation

PUBLICATION 6 MONTHS ENDING 6/30/09 6 MONTHS ENDING 6/30/08 % CHANGE
AARP the Magazine 24,554,819 23,893,285 2.77%
AARP Bulletin 24,305,715 24,248,164 0.24%
Reader's Digest 8,158,652 8,445,916 -3.40%
Better Homes and Gardens 7,634,197 7,651,178 -0.22%
National Geographic 4,708,307 5,061,047 -6.97%
Good Housekeeping 4,630,397 4,668,818 -0.82%
Woman's Day 3,933,990 3,876,483 1.48%
Family Circle 3,932,510 3,896,088 0.93%
Ladies' Home Journal 3,842,791 3,844,222 -0.04%
AAA Westways 3,831,215 3,820,529 0.28%
People 3,615,858 3,803,217 -4.93%
Game Informer Magazine 3,601,201 3,498,935 2.92%
Time 3,372,240 3,389,166 -0.50%
Prevention 3,312,624 3,331,080 -0.55%
Taste of Home 3,302,601 3,198,029 3.27%
Sports Illustrated 3,252,298 3,260,964 -0.27%
TV Guide 2,934,969 3,274,187 -10.36%
Cosmopolitan 2,907,436 2,937,861 -1.04%
Southern Living 2,840,241 2,802,444 1.35%
AAA Via 2,783,833 2,824,461 -1.44%
Newsweek 2,646,613 2,737,450 -3.32%
Maxim 2,537,130 2,535,884 0.05%
AAA Going Places 2,521,974 2,547,092 -0.99%
AAA Living 2,458,902 2,445,146 0.56%
Playboy 2,453,266 2,700,653 -9.16%
Source: Audit Bureau of Circulations. Preliminary figures -- subject to audit.
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