MAGAZINES SLUMPING ON NEWSSTANDS

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Ten-year figures just released by Vos, Gruppo & Capell show just how big a hit some major magazines have taken as retailers continue to consolidate the number of titles sold on their racks.

The biggest loser during that period, in sheer magazine sales, was TV Guide, whose 1996 newsstand sales stood at 4,129,108, down 4,285,976-or 51%-from '86.

The consultancy reported that the top-20 selling national magazines on newsstands have slumped a total of 35% at the newsstand over the past 10 years; for 1996 alone, they fell 6%. The data are based on 124 magazines tracked by the Audit Bureau of Circulations.

"Soft" offers from publishers, such as subscription premiums; clearinghouse discount prices; and consolidation are largely responsible for the drop, said Dan Capell, consultancy managing director.

COVER PRICES UP 46%

Cover prices have jumped 46% to an average $3.09 in that period, but, adjusting for inflation, dollar sales have only grown 3.4%.

On the up side, the top gainer in the 10-year period was Prevention, whose 1996 newsstand sales of 811,801 were up 662,386-or 443%.

Magazine Publishers of America late last month held a first-ever industry summit among publishers and retailers to address the increasingly difficult issue of magazine distribution. Both the summit and Vos data appear to highlight the need for circulation directors to change the way they distribute their magazines.

"The consolidation . . . is a positive for the major [publishers]. It should improve units sold in the short term because publishers should be able to manage their units [more effectively] that way," Mr. Capell said.

But publishers of smaller-circulation titles may run into trouble.

"One solution I've seen is to add some controlled circulation to a paid circ base-YM and Parents have done this-and added 40,000 to 50,000 copies this way,"

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