While single copy sales of the New Republic (considered the most objective measure of a magazine’s print appeal) more than doubled from the fourth quarter of 2012 to the first half of 2013, following Facebook founder Chris Hughes’ purchase of the magazine, they have steadily declined since. Between the first and second halves of 2013, newsstand sales fell by 57%, and fell a further 20% in the first half of 2014, according to the Alliance for Audited Media.
The New Republic’s troubles are reflected in the data for its fellow niche news magazines, which all target an elite audience consisting of older, educated and wealthier readers. Looking at three comparable magazines (The Atlantic, The New Yorker and The Economist), the digital side of the business has been making some gains, but single copy sales for this group were down or flat since 2008, according to the Alliance for Audited Media. For the first half of 2014, The Atlantic saw its sales rise 20% from a year before. The New Yorker, however, fell 5% during the same period, while The Economist fell 16%.