Reader’s Digest, which once had bragging rights as the biggest-selling consumer magazine, can no longer claim that title, the Audit Bureau of Circulation’s latest figures reveal.
Excluding membership magazines like AARP The Magazine, Meredith's Better Homes and Gardens now holds that distinction, with a total circ of 7.6 million, according to the ABC’s FAS-FAX covering the June-December 2009 period.
RD, now No. 2 at 7.1 million, which has deliberately cut its circulation in recent years to improve its profitability. In February, it will lower its rate base to 5.5 million from 8 million and down nearly two-thirds from 1999, when it stood at 15 million.
National Geographic and Good Housekeeping also traded places, Nat Geo falling to fourth place and GH advancing to third. Other major titles that changed position were Family Circle, which fell to No. 7 from No. 6; and corporate sibling Ladies’ Home Journal, which moved from 8th to 6th place.
Looking just at the newsstand, Cosmo remains the top-selling magazine with retail sales of 1.7 million units, followed by People, Woman’ World and First. Us Weekly leapfrogged In Touch Weekly, which became Nos. 5 and 6 in newsstand sales, respectively.
For the industry overall, total paid and verified circ declined 2.2 percent year-over-year with single-copy sales down 9.1 percent. The largest bucket, total circ, declined faster than it did over the first half of the year, when it slipped 1.2 percent, but newsstand sales showed a slight improvement over the first half, when wholesaler problems caused delivery interruptions and retail sales fell 12.4 percent.
“The retail sales marketplace is improving,” said Bob Sauerberg, group president of consumer marketing for Condé Nast, which reported a 0.4 percent increase in total circulation across its titles for the second half. “The economy’s getting better.”
Verified circ, largely waiting-room copies that often attract buyer scrutiny because readers don’t pay for them, declined 5.1 percent year-over-year.