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Magazine Readership Posts 3 Percent Gain, Boosted By Digital Editions

Most Popular Magazines By Readership GainsDigital has long been thought to spell the end of the printed magazine, but it’s actually helping to boost overall magazine readership numbers, according to recent reports.

You can tell a lot about a person according to the magazines he or she subscribes to. Right now, you’re probably running through a mental list of the stacks of magazines you’d find at homes of family or friends, or even yourself.

And you can also tell a lot about adults in the U.S. by which magazines are experiencing a growth in readership.

According to the latest data from the GfK MRI’s Survey of the American Consumer, numbers for print and digital editions are up in general 3 percent. But the genres of the most popular magazines would indicate a greater awareness of the importance of diet, fitness, and mental well-being.

The magazines that logged the highest growth are from spring 2012 to spring 2013 are: Diabetes Forecast (up nearly 50 percent), Yoga Journal (36.6 percent), Psychology Today (36 percent), Veranda (33.2 percent), and Food Network Magazine (28.6 percent).

The inclusion of Food Network Magazine on the list is evidence of another trend: the rising popularity of food and cooking magazines. Buoyed by the support of its namesake network, Food Network Magazine leads the charge in that category, with peers like Cooking With Paula Deen, Food & Wine, and Cooking Light posting gains as well.

Other magazines whose readership is on the rise include The Atlantic and The Economist, along with regional titles like Texas Monthly and New York magazine, the latter of which earned National Magazine Awards for both Magazine of the Year and Cover of the Year earlier this month.

Among those magazines losing readership in the past year include family, technology, fashion, and men’s interest titles.

For all the fears that the rise of digital would spell the end of the printed magazine, it just may be that tablets are behind the upward trend in readership. Then again, this survey is the first to measure the impact of digital editions, so more evidence is needed.

Still, other studies show a preference for digital magazines among tablet users—a quarter of them—according to the Mequoda Group, a digital publishing consultant. But that number is projected to almost triple by 2020, with an estimated 65 percent opting for tablet editions of their favorite magazines.

Already, according to the GfK MRI’s Survey of the American Consumer, five magazines boast healthy digital readership numbers. Those are: ESPN The Magazine (1.1 million), TV Guide (705,000), Food Network Magazine (658,000), Sports Illustrated (544,000) and WebMD the Magazine (510,000).