Over the past thirty years, many of the most popular magazines in the United States have seen their circulation drop precipitously. Nevertheless, recent industry reports indicate that magazines have been making a comeback. In fact, magazine readership is at an all-time peak, with the Association of Magazine Media saying that 91 percent of Americans peruse magazines. In March 2016, the average audience for magazines was 1.9 billion people. That audience tends to be active on social media: it gave online magazine brands 900 million likes and followers during the first quarter of 2016. At first glance, this news seems confounding. If newsstand sales have dropped, and some large magazines have reduced the size of their circulation, how is it possible that readership has increased?
A Magazine in Every Flavor
The answer lies in the astounding range of available magazines. With more magazines of every possible stripe in circulation, the number of readers attracted to those magazines has ballooned. Today, there are roughly twelve thousand magazines in circulation in the United States. Compare that to the two thousand titles that were available in 1980, and the uptick in readership becomes clear. Every interest, every age group, every industry has at least one dedicated magazine. Magazine readership knows no bounds because no group is excluded from the magazine universe. That translates into an overall greater readership of magazines.
A strong online presence also brings up magazines’ numbers. Nielsen data show that magazines’ accessibility beats that of TV shows, with the top ten magazines reaching almost twice the audience of the top ten television shows. Other statistics, provided by Shareablee, show that people are more engaged with magazines on social media than with radio, newspapers, or TV. All types of platforms for digital magazines continue to show growth. Audiences for video and mobile have been expanding in the double digits, and desktop/laptop using magazine audiences have grown by 6 percent in the past few months.
No doubt, magazines have not lost their appeal among endless streams of ads and content. Much has been said about people’s preference for paper and ink over digital books; the same thinking applies to magazines’ tangible features. Furthermore, people actually like magazine ads, whereas they want to kill online ads. Incorporated into a glossy magazine, ads enhance the appeal of the contact instead of distracting the eye. Consumer demand for magazines is not ebbing: in 2015, more than two hundred new titles were launched. Magazine publishers and readers are clearly keeping the faith.