Michael Jackson tributes and book-a-zines have generated $55 million in additional newsstand sales for magazine publishers, providing one bright spot, however somber, amid widespread newsstand declines so far this year. "Based on our estimates, we're at about almost $67 million in Michael Jackson product," said Gil Brechtel, president-CEO of the Magazine Information Network, often called MagNet, which tracks data from wholesalers and retailers. "Some of that, of course, is People magazine and all that. But these are mostly specials, like the People tribute, an $11.99 product. The industry was able to produce probably $55 million in additional revenue from Michael Jackson magazines and book-a-zines."
For some context, MagNet projects that magazine retail sales in the U.S. in the first half of 2009 will reach between $1.8 billion and $1.975 billion. Michael Jackson's death last June unleashed a flood of memorial media coverage across media. In print, everyone from Time to Us Weekly to Jet converted regular issues into Michael Jackson specials, rushed special issues to newsstands and published book-a-zine tributes. Time magazine, for example, published a 64-page special extra issue on June 29, which retailed for $5.99, with a special Pepsi ad on the back that read, "You will always be the king of pop."
MagNet's analysis of Michael Jackson's impact includes July, which won't help the approaching circulation report covering January through June that's due Monday from the Audit Bureau of Circulations. Early looks at many publishers' results have suggested that subscriptions held up fine over the first half but that newsstand sales suffered some sharp blows from the recession and a dispute with wholesalers.New numbers from Hearst Magazines and Conde Nast are further reinforcing that picture.