Ed Driscoll

2009's Best, And Worst-Selling Magazine Covers

No surprises here:

The “king of pop’s” passing on June 25, 2009, from an apparent overdose of prescription drugs fulfilled the A-list-celebrity-who-dies-unexpectedly prerequisite for newsstand immortality. Happened to Princess Diana in 1997 and John F. Kennedy, Jr., in 1999, and like them, Jackson’s post-mortem will be newsstand fodder with the “How did he really die?” curiosity. The involuntary manslaughter indictment of Jackson physician Dr. Conrad Murray (who pled not guilty) should keep the story on the front-burner just as did the inquests that followed the deaths of Diana and Kennedy.

By contrast, the deaths of Farrah Fawcett and Patrick Swayze lacked the shock value, and that of Brittany Murphy lacked the celebrity A-list value.

Yet, Jackson’s death did not have the newsstand impact of the 2008 election of Barack Obama. The two were best-sellers for Newsweek / People / Time, but second-half-2009 sales were -41.3%/-10.0%/-34.9%, respectively. Us Weekly, which had a best for Jackson but not for Obama, was +1.9%.

..But It’s Not Easy Selling Green–Or Jay Leno

Newsweek’s worst-seller last year was The Greenest Big Companies in America (September 28), which reflects the environment being of minor interest to money and jobs in a bad economy. In a good economic year, green would typically produce more green.

Of course — lots of feel-good fads are profitable in flush economic years, particularly one that absolves its practitioner of consumerist guilt. On the other hand, isn’t it oddly appropriate that Newsweek’s green issue is also the one that destroyed the least trees?

And speaking of Newsweek and the enviro-hypocrisy of its target market, the Washington Post-owned opinion magazine notes, “A new study shows that people are more likely to cheat and steal after buying green products”, citing Sting and six other celebrities with similarly ‘green’ Mini-Me’ personas. Unfortunately, Harrison Ford apparently confessed to his airborne jaunts to pick up a burger and fries after Newsweek’s slack deadline had passed.

(H/T: Virginia Postrel.)