But two heavyweights of women's publishing, Glamour and Cosmopolitan, take the lead in reaching the largest number of women-and thus are the fiercest competitors.
The high-stakes, high-profits battle between Hearst Magazines' Cosmo and Conde Nast Publications' Glamour took a particularly personal turn when Bonnie Fuller jumped from editor of the former to editor of the latter.
That shift not only increased the intensity of the newsstand and ad page fight, it meant both magazines had to underscore the uniqueness of their positioning to advertisers.
An often-stated belief expressed by observers when Ms. Fuller moved to Glamour was that she was going to "Cosmo-fy" the magazine built by longtime editor Ruth Whitney. While the sex-tip cover lines more often landed in the upper right-hand spot, and articles on sex are accompanied by more art, coverage of the top-selling subject hasn't increased significantly, said Glamour Publisher Mary Berner.
As for Cosmo, Publisher Donna Kalajian maintains Ms. Fuller, after only one year at the helm, was "only one blip on the radar screen of Cosmo's history." Albeit the blip who succeeded Cosmo legend Helen Gurley Brown.
Editor Kate White is continuing the Cosmo brand of reading material, heavy on relationship and sexual advice.
MORE FASHION EDIT, MORE ADS
Glamour ad pages for the first quarter, at 394, are up 2.2% over last year. The gain is attributed mainly to increased ad pages from fashion advertisers, such as Tommy Hilfiger.
Ms. Fuller upped the size of the editorial well devoted to fashion, drawing in Alfani, DKNY, Emanuel and Kasper.
Cosmopolitan was down 8.7% to 403.2 ad pages for the first quarter, mainly due to softness in beauty spending, said Ms. Kalajian.
How successful have the publishers been positioning the differences in their titles?
"I think it's very hard to articulate," said Carol Schuler, VP-communications and creative for Clarins USA, which buys ad pages in both titles. "By meeting and understanding the editors
. . . and following what they do, you come to know what to expect from them."
While Ms. Schuler suspects the circulations of the two books probably do have some overlap in readers, the reach of the two together is worth buying both.
From their newsstand and circulation performance, neither title seems to be misfiring with readers. For the last six months of 1998, Cosmopolitan was up 2.5% in total circulation, to 2.77 million. That's an average bonus of 468,000 over its 2.3 million rate-base guarantee to advertisers. As a newsstand powerhouse, the book was up slightly (0.3%) in single-copy sales to 1,960,552.
Glamour, up 2.3% in total circulation to 2.16 million, had a slight decline (0.6%) in newsstand sales for the period, selling 1,046,807. The new editors only oversaw the last two issues of 1998.
At the newsstand for the first two months of '99, Cosmo and Glamour are reporting increased sales: Cosmo up an average of 100,000 copies each issue, and