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(Aug. 13, 2001) -- The big winner in the just-released Audit Bureau of Circulations report for magazine circulation in the first half of 2001 was, unsurprisingly, magazine-cum-cultural-phenomenon O, the Oprah Magazine.

Hearst Magazines and Harpo Productions' year-old title, which launched last May with a rate base -- the circulation guaranteed to advertisers -- of 500,000, saw its circulation hit 2,751,563.

O now sells more copies than established magazines such as Martha Stewart Living (2.4 million), American Media's National Enquirer (2 million) and Primedia's Seventeen (2.4 million) and is getting within shouting distance of titles such as Newsweek and Playboy, both of which are around 3.2 million.

The other smash success of the last five years, Dennis Publishing's Maxim, saw circulation rise 16.5% to 2,513,146, although a decline in single-copy sales could mean Maxim's adolescent growth spurt may be ending.

Single-copy sales remained problematic for the industry, as top titles like Business Week, Conde Nast Publications' Vogue, Hearst's Harper's Bazaar and Spin all posted double-digit declines. Titles failing to meet their rate bases included TV Guide, which missed its 9.9 million by nearly 500,000 copies, and Emap USA's -- soon to be Primedia's -- Teen. -- Jon Fine

Copyright August 2001, Crain Communications Inc.

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