Shock still sells, especially on the newsstand. According to MagNet’s industry insights, Time’s provocative “Are You Mom Enough?” issue—featuring a mother breastfeeding her 3-year-old boy—and Newsweek’s “The First Gay President,” showing President Obama wearing a rainbow halo, were massive hits for both weeklies.
Both issues indexed high above the the titles’ previous week newsstand sales, according to MagNet’s Industry Insights. Time’s “Mom Enough” performed 82 percent higher than the mag's prior issue and 43 percent over the previous 26 weeks on average, while Newsweek’s “Gay President” was up nearly 78 percent over the previous issue and 53 percent over the last 26 weeks' average. Although both issues did perform significantly below their year-ago issues, there’s a good reason: at the time, Time and Newsweek’s covers were dedicated to the hugely newsworthy death of Osama bin Laden.
Attention doesn't always translate into huge newsstand sales, of course. Newsweek's Michelle Bachmann cover didn't deliver the sales one might have expected based on the controversy it stirred up, for instance.
“These results once again prove that newsstand sales are very impulsive,” MagNet remarked of the most recent weeklies' results, “and that consumers will purchase magazines that contain subject matter that stimulates their senses and piques their interests.”