How Lady Magazines Fared in 2010

by Liz Colville

2010 is gone, but not forgotten, and it will be worth taking a peek back at 2010 every now and then to get a sense of what life was like before Facebook took over the world. You might find that, for instance, Lady Gaga helped magazines sell a lot of issues. WWD looked at the Audit Bureau of Circulations’ 2010 data and found that Gaga’s Rolling Stone and Cosmopolitan covers were those magazines’ best-selling issues of the year, while Vanity Fair’s Gaga cover came in second place for that magazine (behind the riveting pouty chest and pouty pout of Angelina Jolie). Briefly looking at the man department, Rihanna’s strangely photoshopped arm came in second among GQ covers.

Taylor Swift did not do so well in 2010, cover-wise. Her Elle cover was the worst-selling of the year for the magazine, and her Marie Claire cover was the third worst-selling. (It’s worth noting that magazines’ “years” often end on different months). But this makes sense: Elle may be aiming young, but Taylor Swift is too young for most of that magazine’s readers (though she may have gotten a handful of 15-year-olds suddenly interested in buying Elle). And when someone reveals details of their private lives so willingly in song, what more could they have to say in print? It’s not just about photo spreads. Or is it? Do you still read?

In other circulation news, Anna Wintour’s crush on Blake Lively doesn’t seem to be paying off just yet — Lively’s June Vogue cover, which was her second for the magazine, was the third worst-selling issue of 2010. Her Esquire cover was the worst-selling of the year. Again — too young. She topped Allure’s sales in 2010, which proves the lady has an audience. But what is this lady’s story, beyond that she enjoys lipstick and things? For more on that subject, read E! Online’s award-winning 2009 essay, “Does Blake Lively Deserve the Cover of Vogue?

Magazines are a strange breed, as some of the above data shows. Anne Hathaway’s Vogue cover was one of the worst of the year, but her In Style cover was number-two for the year. Lauren Conrad’s Seventeen cover was the second worst-selling of the year, but her Glamour cover was the best-selling. Diff’rent strokes. The data suggests that in a lot of cases women just aren’t getting what they want from a magazine [cover [story]], or that women can’t see eye-to-eye on anything, which drives editors to put the lowest common denominators on their covers. Elle is the only lady mag I subscribe to, in which case I have no choice. But if I did, I would really love to see covers of the following: Uffie, Joni Mitchell, Alexa Chung, Joanna Newsom, Cate Blanchett, Annette Bening, and Jennifer Lawrence. And throw a man in there some time! A baby would also work.