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.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Hayley Williams performs with Paramore in New York
musicParamore singer says 'Steal Your Girl' is itself stolen from a New Found Glory hit
Sport
Ronaldinho signs the t-shirt of a pitch invader
footballProof they are getting bolder
News
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
News
William Hague
people... when he called Hague the county's greatest
Voices
voicesBy the man who has
News
More than 90 years of car history are coming to an end with the abolition of the paper car-tax disc
newsThis and other facts you never knew about the paper circle - completely obsolete today
Arts and Entertainment
Ed Sheeran performs at his Amazon Front Row event on Tuesday 30 September
musicHe spotted PM at private gig
Sport
Arsene Wenger tried to sign Eden Hazard
footballAfter 18 years with Arsenal, here are 18 things he has still never done as the Gunners' manager
News
Floyd
newsFloyd 'Creeky' Creekmore still performed regularly to raise money for local hospitals
Extras
indybestKeep extra warm this year with our 10 best bedspreads
News
people'I’d rather have Fred and Rose West quote my characters on childcare'
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

SEO Executive

£24 - 28k: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Technical SEO Executive to join one ...

Research Analyst / Insight Analyst

£25k: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Research Analyst / Insight Analyst to joi...

RTB/ Programmatic Campaign Manager

35,000 - 50,000: Sphere Digital Recruitment: Our client is the world's largest...

Head of Marketing - Acquisition & Direct Reponse Marketing

£90000 - £135000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Marketing (B2C, Acquisition...

Day In a Page

Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Why do we like making lists?

Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

Paris Fashion Week

Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
10 best children's nightwear

10 best children's nightwear

Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

Manchester City vs Roma

Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

Trouble on the Tyne

Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?