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Magazine Industry Continues Publishing's Nosedive

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It seems like nearly every month there's a different reason to lament the decline and fall of the publishing industry. Now it's the magazine business that's looking messy, as the Audit Bureau of Circulation's has just released sales numbers for the first half of the year.

The pullback in consumer spending is hitting magazine sales hard, especially at the newsstand, where consumers tend to make the kind of impulse decisions that might be more restrained in this economic environment.

For the first half of 2008, sales of single copies of magazines dropped 6.3 percent, with gossip and fashion magazines falling the furthest. (I suppose it makes sense; it's easier to justify buying a business or money mag when finances are tight). In Touch's sales dropped 28.6 percent, and Life & Style sales dropped 30.2 percent. That means they'll miss the minimum circulation they promised advertisers, which isn't good for the bottom line. Vogue's sales dropped 14.7 percent. And I guess self-help isn't helping much in the economic downturn; "O", The Oprah Magazine saw a 17 percent drop in newsstand sales.

People are shifting to the more economical subscription service, with total paid circulation up .3 percent across the industry. And People and OK! magazine seem to be bucking the trend all together. People showing a 5.2 increase in sales, OK up 19.4 percent.

News weeklies continue the slide, with Time and Newsweek's sales and readership dropping. If you think about the boost political campaigns used to give news weeklies, it's a sign of the times. People seem to be getting their political fix more and more online these days. And when it comes to that gossip fix, they're just being more judicious.

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