What Kind of Cover Makes You Actually Buy a Magazine?


Magazine sales continue to decline, but magazine editors insist: Getting on the cover of a magazine continues to be a goal and a coup for Hollywood stars.

In a piece for AdWeek, People managing editor Larry Hackett says: “The era of the A-List movie star is over.” And:

“I will confess, there were times in the ‘90s when we put people on the cover because they were huge stars, but the stories weren’t exactly scintillating. Now, the bar is higher. … People need a narrative arc.”

Hackett also claims that people of color are a tough shill: “I’d be lying if I said that minorities don’t have a harder time selling covers.”

Jess Cagle, managing editor at Entertainment Weekly, tells AdWeek‘s Emily Bazilian that choosing between celebrities for the cover of EW often means picking the one with with the best social media presence — Facebook followers, Twitter followers, fans who are engaged — it matters.

As a recovering magazine junkie who worked in magazines for years, I don’t consider myself the “average” newsstand shopper, due to my mainstream mag fatigue. When I purchase a publication for myself — not for work — its’s generally not just because there’s a striking cover — that’s certainly a huge part of it — but also because the insides seem meaty, informative and worth poring over.

The magazines I’ve actually spent my own money on recently include As If, which is hugely oversized and has pretty graphic design and gorgeous photography; Brownbook, “the urban guide to the Middle East”; and Love, the hefty biannual fashion magazine edited by Katie Grand, formerly of Pop. I also dig Elle Decor, and when taking a flight, Vanity Fair‘s lengthy pieces. I gravitate toward striking covers and the sense that inside, I’m going to see things I haven’t seen before — something most of the mainstream ladymags, with their rotating stable of blondes, seldom offer.

But I’m curious about you guys: Since tabloids and ladymags are targeted to women — and since there’s so much to read and look at online — what makes you actually spend cash on a magazine? Which do you buy, and why?


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