People Only Celeb Weekly to Get Heath Ledger on Cover

In Fiercely Competitive Newsstand Market, Later Deadline an Advantage

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NEW YORK ( -- People magazine's issue on newsstands Friday will be the only celebrity title this week with a cover story about the awful, but clearly biggest, news of the cycle: yesterday's discovery of Heath Ledger dead at 28.
Heath Ledger People magazine

People magazine will be the only celeb weekly to feature Heath Ledger on the cover.

People only has the news because it holds its issues open until late on Tuesday nights, while its competitors lock their issues down on Mondays. But it is likely to benefit People in the relentless checkout-lane war against Us Weekly, Star, OK, In Touch and Life & Style.

Star magazine's cover this week features Jamie Lynn Spears, whose unhappy teen pregnancy has moved its own share of magazines. OK's cover will feature Britney Spears.

Us Weekly, on the other hand, emphasized a cover package in stark contrast with all the miserable celebrity news: "Secrets of the New Power Girl," featuring "Hannah Montana" star Miley Cyrus.

"It's about the new generation of these girls who are a real counterpoint to the bad girls in Hollywood," said Us editor in chief Janice Min, "and how they stay out of trouble."

It should be a very interesting week to watch what sells on newsstand.

In Touch and Life & Style confirmed that their covers do not include Mr. Ledger but did not elaborate.

Circ wars
Celebrity weeklies have provided the magazine industry's fastest growth this decade, even if their growth has slowed in the last couple of years. Time Inc.'s People remains the reigning champion with paid and verified circulation averaging 3.7 million over the first half of 2007, down 2.2% from 3.8 million in first-half 2006, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations. Wenner Media's Us Weekly reported an average of nearly 1.9 million, up 4.8%. American Media's Star counted nearly 1.5 million, down 3.7%; Bauer's In Touch turned in 1.3 million, for a 10.2% gain; OK reported 809,411, up 54.3%; and Bauer's Life & Style reported 753,092, up 6.8%.

Each magazine's efforts to sell those readers to advertisers are only intensifying as well. People ran 3,889 ad pages last year, up 4% over 2006, according to the Publishers Information Bureau; Us Weekly moved 1,949, up 1%; Star had 1,260 for a nearly 25% gain; In Touch ran 1,065, up 20%; Life & Style included 661, up 40%; and OK ran 609 ad pages for a 44% jump.
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