By Alyson Fixter
A year of celebrity shock and scandal equals a good year for the magazine market, according to the latest round of ABC figures, following a 2005 in which the booming weeklies made the most of Jordan’s fairytale wedding, Kate’s drug revelations, the Brad/Jen split and the mishaps of multiple D-listers whose names are already fading from memory.
Many eyes were focused on the real-life market, following the launch of IPC’s Pick Me Up and Burda’s Full House, and as NatMags and News International geared up for Real People and Love It! respectively.
Meanwhile, magazines such as Now, Heat, Closer and Reveal were racking up millions of sales between them and Grazia was carving a niche for itself as a friend to the A-lister needing a shoulder to cry on.
Overall winner in the celebrity market had to be Richard Desmond, whose OK! shot to the top of the sales table, partly based on the record-breaking week of its Jordan wedding exclusive, joining his other celeb titles, New! and Star, in the top 20 fastest-growing magazines.
But does the current sheen on the weeklies put the glossies in the shade? The older women’s market has shown some winners in Good Housekeeping and Woman & Home, but all of the glossies aimed at younger women, including market leader Glamour, showed sales drops, marking a continued move towards more fast-moving magazines, kickstarted by the launches of Nuts and Zoo two years ago.
Glamour editor Jo Elvin has warned that the saminess of the weekly titles could lead to a "reversal of fortunes", and said she feels "comfortable" with her magazine’s figure, while retailers have echoed her comments, saying that the market could already be reaching its peak.
But away from the froth of the celeb magazines, another set of weeklies — the current affairs titles — are proving that the British public is not just addicted to pretty faces.
As more readers forsake newspapers and look to magazines to provide analysis and comment as well as news, The Spectator, The Economist and The Week are among those showing respectable sales increases.
Overall, the magazines market is up 3.1 per cent at the newsstand and a string of new launches are planned for the coming year, some still top secret. On ABC day, IPC announced it had a major new launch on the go, but refused to reveal any more details.
News International’s Inside Out is due next month, with up to four more launches planned for later this year, and there have long been rumours circulating that another weekly glossy is planned to rival Grazia.
The PPA’s director of marketing, Phil Cutts, said: "The latest ABC figures are testament to the continuing strength of the medium.
"As per last year, the focus remains firmly on the women’s weekly market which continues to go from strength to strength. You only have to look at the impressive percentage increases for both Reveal and OK! to see that readers’ passion for the celebrity market remains undiminished.
"The latest ABC figures and increases in volumes of magazines purchased indicate that consumers’ increasing appetite for magazines continues."