Taylor Swift Magazine Covers Are Not Hits: Bad News For Vanity Fair

If you’ve passed by a newsstand lately, you’ve no doubt noticed that Taylor Swift has graced the cover of virtually every fashion and lifestyle magazine -- with the possible exception of Skin & Ink. Glamour, Harper’s Bazaar, Cosmopolitan and Elle are just a few of the titles on which the inexplicably popular music sensation has appeared in recent months. But despite the repetition, or perhaps because of it, those issues have not been selling nearly as well as her records.  

Women’s Wear Daily’s Erik Maza compiled circulation numbers for some of the magazine industry’s recent Swift-fueled issues, and the figures are less than stellar. For instance, the February 2012 issue of Vogue featuring Swift sold 329,371 copies -- falling short of issues that featured other music stars: Vogue’s March issue featuring Adele sold 410,343 copies while the September Lady Gaga issue -- the year’s bestseller -- sold 602,000.

Granted, September is typically a better-selling month for most magazines, but comparisons for other titles tell a similar story, according to according to Maza, who reports that he compiled the numbers from the Alliance for Audited Media. In fact, the December issue of Cosmo featuring Swift was that magazine’s weakest-selling issue of the year, selling 20 percent below Cosmo’s six-month average for the second half of 2012.  (In the interest of full disclosure, this reporter considers Swift a bit of an arch nemesis, although it's highly unlikely that she has noticed.)

All of this presents a bit of a problem for Conde Nast’s Vanity Fair, which has been struggling awkwardly to attract younger readers by featuring the likes of Justin Bieber and other teen heartthrobs on its covers over the last few years. Swift appears on the current issue, but it’s still too early to tell if revelations about the star’s “men, moods and music” will appeal to the magazine’s aging readership. Incidentally, it doesn’t help that some of Vanity Fair’s top contributors are proudly crotchety, as evidenced by Michael Wolff’s “these kids today”-style Twitter exchanges on Tuesday.

Wolff has been going at it with Millennial journalists after writing a GQ article on New York City’s restaurant culture. Below is a sample of what he had to say.

 

 

 

 

According to AAM’s most recent circulation report, retail sales for the consumer magazine industry as a whole are sinking fast. For the second half of 2012, total paid circulation for the 402 U.S. titles that report to AAM declined only 0.3 percent, but single-copy sales -- that is, sales at newsstands, bookstores and other retail locations -- fell 8.2 percent. Celebrity and lifestyle magazines have been among the hardest hit.

Read WWD’s full story here.

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