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Publishing power grab: a look at the most-read magazines in America

pile of magazinesBack in 2012, InVocus took stock of the country’s most-read magazines, noting at the time that they’d remained relatively stable year over year, some of which were distributed with newspapers. As might be expected, newspaper weeklies held steady as their distribution through hundreds of newspaper partners guarded them against the turbulent whims of the print publishing industry. The token offerings of the old powers in publishing jostled shoulders behind them, but ultimately, the top 12 in 2012 looked an awful lot like the top 12 in 2011.

Below we’ve put together a list of America’s most-read magazines as of 2014. At first glance much of what we noticed in 2012 proves true again, but a look at the publishers behind the familiar faces reveals shifts in the publishing landscape.

1. Parade (Athlon Media Group): Along with Dash Magazine, Parade was sold this year to Athlon Media Group. Distributed with more than 700 newspapers, Parade remains the most-read (at least most seen) magazine in America. The insert’s strength continues to lie in breadth of its reach, with a readership split almost evenly between men and women. The median age for both groups is the same at 55.

3/2. AARP Bulletin; AARP The Magazine (AARP): At 22.2 and 22.3 million readers respectively, AARP’s family of publications isn’t going anywhere soon as it continues to coast on the wave that is the boomer generation.

4. USA Weekend (Gannett): This USA Today companion was distributed weekly to more than 600 newspapers and has about 18 million readers.

5. Athlon Sports (Athlon Media Group): Athlon Media Group’s flagship sports monthly and largest sports/male focused publication in the nation. Its audience is 84 percent male and its median reader is 46 years old.

6. Spry Magazine (Athlon Media Group): Another of Athlon’s monthly newspaper inserts, held steady at 9.2 million readers. Serving as a companion to Athlon Sports, its audience is predominantly women with a median age of 51.

7. Dash Magazine (Athlon Media Group): Acquired by Athlon this year from Parade Media Group, Dash Magazine grew to 8.8 million readers from 8 million in 2011. The cooking monthly targets women with a median age of 47.

8. Better Homes and Gardens (Meredith): This magazine has maintained its lead on rival Good Housekeeping and is holding steady at roughly 7.6 million readers. Women make up 81 percent of its audience with a median age of 51.

9. Game Informer (GameStop): The most widely read gaming magazine in the world, while remaining unchallenged in its market, fell slightly from 7.5 million readers in 2011 to approximately 7.1 million in 2014. Its target audience is young men between the ages of 18 and 34.

10. Good Housekeeping (Hearst): The domestic lifestyle monthly leapt over National Geographic and Reader’s Digest to earn a spot in the top 12.  With a readership of some 4.34 million in 2011, the title has ticked up to 4.35 million in 2014. More than 90 percent of its audience are women, who check in with a median age of 56.

11. Family Circle (Meredith): Currently listed with a base rate of 4 million, the magazine’s average reader is a busy mom raising tweens and teenagers.

12. People (Time Inc.): The celebrity weekly targets women, who make up roughly 72 percent of its audience. Its median reader is 44 years old and the magazine had approximately 3.48 million subscribers in 2014.

Not making the cut this year are such familiar names as National Geographic, which had come in at number 10on the most-read in America in 2011. And Reader’s Digest, in a remarkable plunge, fell all the way out of the top 12. It sat at eight in 2011. It’s important to note that the magazine just recently announced a plan to cut its number of issues to 10 in 2015. A slew of other consumer monthlies, including Ladies’ Home Journal, Sports Illustrated, and Cosmopolitan, hover on the edge of inclusion, all checking in at between 3 and 3.5 million subscribers.



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