By: Keith J. Kelly
Magnolia Journal, the red-hot magazine about Joanna and Chip Gaines, the fixer-upper couple, will boost its circulation to 1.2 million with its spring 2018 issue, Meredith said Thursday.
The circulation increase makes the year-old title one of the most successful magazine launches in publishing history. It launched last year with a 400,000-copy rate base before growing to its current 900,000-copy base.
While its fast start is impressive, it has not eclipsed the start made by Hearst and Oprah Winfrey when they launched O, the Oprah Magazine in April 2000 with a circulation guarantee of 500,000. By the fall of 2000, O was up to 900,000. As America fell in love with the title, its rate base kept rising, reaching 1.3 million by January 2001 and was at 1.9 million by July 2001.
Both Magnolia and O went back for second printings when their first press run sold out.
Magnolia Journal upped their circulation to 900,000 one year after launch with the winter 2017 issue that hits next month.
Given the tougher market in today’s world, the start is all the more impressive.
“You can’t do print like its the year 2009 anymore,” said Professor Samir Husni. at the Magazine Innovation Center at University of Mississippi. In an earlier era, publishers would push the amount of circulation because that was what set the advertising rates.
In contrast Magnolia Journal is charging $7.99 a copy on newsstands — and selling through 70 percent, compared to the industry average of 25 percent. Said Husni, “They are charging the reader more. Advertising is more like the gravy than the main dish.”
Of course, a fast start is no guarantee a title’s circulation will maintain its altitude.
Meredith can look to 1989 when it started Country America music magazine and within a year it reached one million circulation — only to fold in 2003 due to lack of ad support.
Joanna and Chip Gaines’ popular TV show, “Fixer Upper,” starts its final season on Nov. 19 on HGTV. The ability of the power couple to find a new network and maintain the show could affect the long term success of the magazine.
Oprah’s circulation fell when she stopped doing her top-rated syndicated talk show in 2011. Today, O’s circulation is still a healthy 2.3 million, but it’s off from its peak of 2.7 million reached in 2002.