Mag Revenue Numbers: In Which “Flat Is the New Up”

Yesterday, the Publishers Information Bureau released its report tracking magazine ad sales during the second quarter of 2008. The news is, as is generally the case when the news in question combines “journalism” and “ad revenue,” not good. Magazine sales fell, overall, more than 8 percent in the second quarter of 2008.

Here are the details, per NYT media reporter Richard Perez-Pena:

Ad pages sold in magazines in the United States declined slightly last year, 0.8 percent, then fell 6.4 percent in the first quarter of this year compared with the period a year earlier, and 8.2 percent in the second quarter.

There are some notable trend-buckers, though: The Economist and Fortune “posted small gains” this quarter, and high-end lifestyle mags are faring fine:

Ad pages increased in a number of high-end fashion, home décor and travel magazines, like Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue, Architectural Digest and National Geographic Traveler, while several others stayed roughly even.

Per Thomas Wallace, Condé Nast’s editorial director, reacting to the report: “The joke here is, ‘Flat is the new up.’”

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Megan Garber is an assistant editor at the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University. She was formerly a CJR staff writer.