Publishing: What does your magazine say about you?

Are you a lady or a honey, a man or a fella? It depends on which glossy you read, discovers Francis Dickinson

Twice a year the magazine industry is forced to take a hard look at itself. The mirror is the sales figures tallied by the Audit Bureau of Circulation. It's a time for editors and publishers to look at the state they're in, to celebrate, get tearful or just chuck it all in.

Twice a year the magazine industry is forced to take a hard look at itself. The mirror is the sales figures tallied by the Audit Bureau of Circulation. It's a time for editors and publishers to look at the state they're in, to celebrate, get tearful or just chuck it all in.

For binge readers, it's a time to gather armfuls of men's and women's lifestyle magazines and spend two long days lost in a world of "high street honeys", footwear (a kind of female porn) and Brad Pitt's theories of the universe.

The lifestyle magazine world is going through interesting times. There has been a flurry of changes, with Company, Loaded and Maxim appointing new editors and FHM still looking for one. Marie Claire and Loaded have had summer re-launches while FHM has waited until September to show us what it's made of.

In the men's world the birth of two weekly magazines - Zoo and Nuts - has given the market its first big shake-up since the launch of the lads' mags 10 years ago. The two new publications offer an almost identical menu of sport, sex and stomach-churning grotesqueries such as a man with a crate of lager swinging from his penis.

The popularity of these magazines has outstripped expectations and hurt the sales of the top three monthlies. FHM is still doing best, with a net circulation per issue of 573,713, which is more than the combined sales of its two closest rivals - Loaded (circulation 235,140) and Maxim (circulation 227,017). Yet, together, they've lost more than 70,000 readers since last half, with Loaded losing the most, a whopping 10 per cent.

Two years ago, the teething Glamour magazine usurped Cosmopolitan as the best-selling women's title. Glamour is petite in size and thought, yet it has turned into a giant, with a 605,747 readership. It has forced magazines like Cosmopolitan to rethink and redesign. Cosmopolitan will now slide into your bag alongside Glamour. With a readership in itsearly twenties, Glamour also helped finish off a number of ailing late-teen mags such as 19 and J17.

The bomb that is Glamour has roused the women's market to action. Sales of other top titles are up; Cosmopolitan (from 460,655 last half to 465,477); Marie Claire (from 360,789 to 380,760); but Company has slipped (from 330,717 to 325,185).

Cosmopolitan has reduced its size and sexual obsession while still offering a passion package, including a "penis reader", a psychic who reads a penis like a palm. While Marie Claire has attempted to update its trademark features and fashion mix which, according to publisher Jackie Newcombe, "speaks to its readers' intelligence as well as sense of style".

Marie Claire's formula seems to be working. That, and the fact that it has reintroduced the cover gift. "I'd be lying if I said it didn't make a difference," Newcombe said. "Sadly it's a market that's driven by them."

In the men's world there was talk of going upmarket, leaving behind the false image of lads' mags readers as only interested in babes and booze. David Pullan, managing director of FHM Worldwide, said that after reader research it decided to make the magazine more "useful" and has added wall planners and the book of lists.

Despite these changes, FHM, Loaded and Maxim are at first glance like triplets that only their parents can tell apart. But closer examination shows up differences. FHM has 84 images of semi-naked women, whereas Loaded has 76, and Maxim 58.

In terms of language FHM readers are blokes. The women on its pages are ladies, minxes, honeys and girls. Loaded's world is full of fellas. The female of the species are ladies, girls and real women. Maxim, bizarrely, has chosen to assume that all its readers are ugly, but there is no value judgement attached to this. They are as entitled as the next guy to all the girls, pretty ladies, chicks and kinky minxes. As with women's mags, there is a sense with the men's market that the world is moving on while they don't seem to be. Sex and the City is over, the Gallaghers are no longer rock gods.

Two long days spent with Glamour, Cosmopolitan, Company, Marie Claire, FHM, Loaded and Maxim reveal the following: men and women are different. The only thing that they ever share is sex, which for no one is as good as it should be.

The men's magazines are all about the reader and his needs as a solo man. The women's magazines are all about the reader in terms of what might be required of her by someone else. The men's magazines have true-life stories about men who survived being a human cannonball. These men are heroes. The women's true stories are about those who survive breast cancer or abusive husbands. These women are victims.

Men's magazines assume that the reader is born perfect, but because life is a jungle and the reader is born to be king of it, it will show them some things - women, gadgets, a couple of great jackets - that they might want to claim.

Women's magazines assume that the reader is flawed, particularly in terms of their body. To find a man you must constantly improve and spend. Even those women who have attained perfection - that is celebrities - are savagely criticised if they wear orange, which by the time you read this will be last season's colour.

News
Netherlands' goalkeeper Tim Krul fails to make a save from Costa Rica's midfielder Celso Borges during a penalty shoot-out in the quarter-final between Netherlands and Costa Rica during the 2014 FIFA World Cup
newsGoalkeepers suffer from 'gambler’s fallacy' during shoot-outs
News
people
Travel
travel
Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
artCultural relations between Sydney and Melbourne soured by row over milk crate art instillation
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux play teeneage lovers in the French erotic drama 'Blue Is The Warmest Colour' - The survey found four times as many women admitting to same-sex experiences than 20 years ago
filmBlue Is The Warmest Colour, Bojack Horseman and Hobbit on the way
News
Two giraffes pictured on Garsfontein Road, Centurion, South Africa.
i100
Environment
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
News
Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleBenidorm, actor was just 68
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
News
people
News
A scene from the video shows students mock rioting
newsEnd-of-year leaver's YouTube film features playground gun massacre
News
i100
Life and Style
The director of Wall-E Andrew Stanton with Angus MacLane's Lego model
gadgetsDesign made in Pixar animator’s spare time could get retail release
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Data Analytics Manager

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client who are a leading organisation...

Accountant / Assistant Management Accountant

Competitive (DOE): Guru Careers: We are looking for an Assistant Management Ac...

Data Scientist

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: A data analytics are currently looking t...

Insight Analyst Vacancy - Leading Marketing Agency

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: A leading marketing agency have won a fe...

Day In a Page

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices