Reminder: Newsweek Is TRYING To Shrink Newsstand Sales

Newsweek cover

The New York Observer bopped Newsweek yesterday, reporting that even though the mag went through a “a big splashy redesign” in May, it hasn’t yet seen a newstand sales spike.

Observer: Newsweek sold an average of 66,702 copies off the newsstand in its first six weeks since the redesign versus the 66,533 issues that it averaged for the previous 18 issues in 2009, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations’ Rapid Report.

Here’s a hint for the Observer’s John Koblin as he waits for the sales spike.

Stop. It’s not coming. It’s not supposed to.

For months now, Newsweek has made it clear that, in something of a naked attempt to capture the Economist‘s success, it intends to become a less widely-read, but more profitable magazine.

The idea is that by putting the magazine on fewer newstands and raising its subscription rates, the magazine will be able to simultaneously lower printing costs and dwindle its reader-base to a wealthier group that advertisers will pay higher rates to reach.

We emailed Newsweek rep Frank De Maria to see if we understood the magazine’s strategy correctly.

Exactly right. Newsstand sales — despite the fact that we distribute to far fewer outlets — fell substantially less than the industry. We also shipped far fewer magazines, so our draw is smaller, making what we sell more profitable. And we charged more for it. We have also seen the subscriber rate come down as we expected, which is great given that we doubled the price. It shows those who want the magazine will pay a lot more for it. All good for us.

So if anything, it’s very impressive that Newsweek newsstand sales have remained flat even as its sold on fewer newsstands.

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