By Frank James
The bad news for the magazine business is that its newsstand sales fell 9 percent in the second half of 2009 compared to the prior year.
The good news is that decline was less than the 12 percent drop the magazine publishers saw in the first half of 2009.
Still, it's hard to spin 2009 as anything but gloomy for the magazine business overall, save for some bright spots like Oprah Winfrey's "O" magazine and "Vanity Fair" which both had single digit increases.
As the Associated Press reports:
Magazines have been enduring one of the worst advertising slumps in memory. In October, Conde Nast Publications announced it was closing Gourmet, the nation's oldest food magazine, along with three other money-losing titles. The latest circulation drops do not even include such titles because Monday's report is based only on 472 magazines that still publish and that provided comparable figures to industry auditors.
Although the Internet has been taking more of people's time for years, overall magazine circulation had been holding steady for a while.
Overall circulation is starting to creep lower, though. After remaining relatively flat in the first half of 2008, it fell about 1 percent over the next two periods. That drop grew to 2.2 percent in the second half of 2009...
...Not every magazine suffered. A few big names managed to grow their newsstand sales, including Vanity Fair (up 5.1 percent) and Oprah Winfrey's magazine, O (up 5.8 percent).
Still, there were some dramatic declines. While Good Housekeeping's total circulation was roughly flat, its newsstand sales sank more than 30 percent. People magazine, the No. 2 consumer title behind Cosmopolitan, saw newsstand sales drop 10 percent.
Vanity Fair is published by Conde Nast, and O by Winfrey's Harpo Productions. Good Housekeeping is published by Hearst Communications and People by Time Warner Inc.