Tuesday, September 07, 2010
REALITY CHECK: American Society of Magazine Editors 2010 Best Cover Contest: Entertainment & Celebrity
Have you ever considered putting a Celebrity on your cover?  If you have, it’s probably because you hope it will help sell more magazines on newsstands.

Choosing the A-List celebrity who will help you achieve that goal is an important job.  It must be an extremely competitive, costly, and time-consuming task to get an A-List celebrity to agree to appear on the cover.  Get it right, and your readers will reward you.  Get it wrong, and you look like you just don’t get it.

One must therefore assume that in the Entertainment & Celebrity category ratings matter, just like they do for box office attendance at the movies.   What better way to gauge reader excitement and engagement then how a cover cuts through the clutter on a crowded newsstand?   Magazine lovers vote with their wallets, just like movie lovers do.

An actor’s reputation and income rises and falls based on the box office count.  An author’s next advance depends on where they rank on the NY Times Best Seller List.  Certainly the ASME editors didn’t disrespect their fans by nominating covers that were bombs, did they?  Can you imagine the producers of the movie Gigli nominating it for a People’s Choice Award?

For photos of the nominated covers, visit Coverssell.com.

Reality Check on New York cover:

That bewildered look sums it up.   What were they thinking?  According to ABC statistics, this award nominee sold 16,481 copies compared to the average for the Jul/Dec 2009 statement of 17,175, or 4% less than average. Six other covers sold significantly more copies in that rate base period, including the August 31st issue, which sold 24,517 copies, for example–49% more than the editor’s pick to be honored with an award.

Reality Check on the Harpers Bazaar cover:

Is that really Demi Moore on the spiral staircase?  Get me the Hubble Telescope so I can zoom in and find out.  According to ABC statistics, this award nominee sold 127,212 copies compared to the average of 160,062 for the Jan/Jun 2010 period.  That’s 20% worse than the overall average.  This issue ranked dead last in sales performance.  Nominating this cover for an award is not only disrespectful to their audience, it’s downright “bazaar”.

Reality Check on the Rolling Stone cover:

Arguably a risky cover, to their credit the editors rolled the dice and won with Glee.   According to ABC statistics this issue sold 83,121 copies, 4% better than the overall average for the Jan/Jun 2010 statement.  Still, this cover ranked just 7th out of 12 covers published during that rate base period.  For example, the Feb 18th issue featuring Lil Wayne sold 115,204 copies, or 39% more than the cover nominated for an award.  Gee, what up with that?  Lil Wayne has been dissed.

Reality Check on the Esquire Cover:

Fantastic cover, fantastic results at the newsstand.  The Leonard DiCaprio cover sold 125,800 copies according to ABC statistics.  That’s 19% better than the average for the Jan/Jun 2010 period.  It’s also 56% better than last year’s March issue.  Talk about box office appeal.

Reality Check on GQ Cover:

Clint = Eyeballs

This cover sold 246,641 copies according to ABC statistics, and was the best-selling issue for the Jul/Dec 2009 statement, blowing away the average sale for the period by 28%.

Make my day, punks:  I think we have a winner.
- Scott Bullock
About Me
Scott Bullock

Scott Bullock is the the creator of Coverssell.com. Bullock has worked as circulation director for both consumer and B2B magazines including Toronto Life and FASHION. If you have a great cover to share, please send all submissions to 

Note to readers: some of Bullock's posts may refer to his clients.
Most Recent Blog Comment
Kelly says:
Any news on how it performed on newsstands?...
Blog Archive
2017 (75)
2016 (43)
2015 (86)
2014 (59)
2013 (101)
2012 (81)
2011 (75)
2010 (53)