Removal from Wal-Mart racks is latest hit to magazine world

On January 15 Wal-Mart announced it would toss more than 1,000 magazine titles from its shelves.

In the news
On January 15 Wal-Mart announced it would toss more than 1,000 magazine titles from its shelves. Not surprisingly, the common man's retailer kicked luxury-living and high-brow titles like Conde Nast's Cookie, W, and The New Yorker to the curb. The store also scuttled big-name business pubs, such as BusinessWeek and Fortune.

Magazine reps wouldn't comment on the record about this issue, but a Town & Country spokesperson said the magazine, which also got the Wal-Mart axe, sold only about 300 copies per month off the stands. And though the New York Post wrote that Wal-Mart had dumped Meredith's Better Homes & Gardens and Ladies' Home Journal, the household-pleasing titles are "currently available at Wal-Mart and will continue to be," said a Meredith spokesperson.

Why does it matter?
Because the stores generate a whopping 20% of magazine sales nationwide, Wal-Mart's move could hurt new magazines, which need newsstand sales to help them develop a following.

Others speculate that magazines still on the racks could benefit from the Wal-Mart's decision.

"I've had the experience of looking at so many publications at Wal-Mart that are of no interest to me whatsoever that, yeah, it probably could help to clear some of the clutter," said Thomas Eppes, a senior partner with Eric Mower & Associates. "The Internet has also gotten to the point that most people know where they can find their favorite magazine. Bottom line, it also offers a wealth of opportunity for other messages."

Larger magazines seemed indifferent to the move. "Hearst's titles are largely unaffected by Wal-Mart's recent decision," a spokesperson said. "Town & Country is not among our biggest-selling titles in Wal-Mart."

With larger outlets moving out, newer titles might find more breathing room.

Five facts:
1. In 2004, Time Inc. launched All You, a title distributed exclusively at Wal-Mart stores featuring fashion, shopping, and lifestyle tips for women likely to shop there.

2. Citing sources close to the magazine, WWD reported that Conde Nast's Portfolio's single-copy sell-through percentage is only 15%-18% of its newsstand copies -a low number for a new magazine.

3. Among the six major celebrity magazines, Jennifer Aniston covers sold the most magazines, collectively unloading more than 5 million copies, according to Forbes.com, which conducted a six-month survey.

4. Online magazine site Zinio.com recently teamed with Apple to launch the Zinio Mobile Newsstand, offering perfect replicas of print magazines accessible through the iPhone and iPod touch.

5. A recent survey by the American Marketing Association found that digital editions of magazines have served as a way for magazines to revitalize their brands.

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