The full-color, glossy, national-circulation magazine format is a survivor. Despite the rise of the internet and the decline of bookstores and newsstands, and unlike their print-format cousin the daily newspaper, magazines are holding their own in the 21st century. In the U.S. alone, hundreds of titles still enjoy wide circulation and cover myriad topics, from archery to zoology. Hundreds more niche publications and trade journals are also still delivered in print form.
Long gone, of course, are many of the general-interest magazines of yesteryear, and the once-strong newsweeklies, such as Newsweek and U.S. News and World Report, have also declined in popularity, perhaps victims of the internet’s up-to-the-second delivery of news content.
That being the case, what are now the most widely read magazines? The list includes some old standbys and some newer surprises. Here are the top 10 magazines of 2018 by U.S. paid circulation, according to the Agility PR Solutions media consulting group.
10. Reader’s Digest
An island of wholesome, uplifting, and humorous content in an increasingly fractious and polarized era, Reader’s Digest has been in business since 1922. It’s now available in 21 languages (plus a Braille edition) and circulated in over 70 countries, making it the most widely-read magazine internationally, even if it's just at #10 on the American list.
9. National Geographic
First published in 1888, National Geographic has been filling up basements and attics for generations. But crack it open and you're in for a world of insightful knowledge and breathtaking imagery. It’s known for its in-depth coverage, stunning photography, and wide range of subject matter, from the bottom of the ocean to the far reaches of space and everything in between.
We as a society may be a little fuzzy on the inner workings of the Federal Reserve or the pros and cons of the Import-Export Bank, but we definitely have a grasp of celebrity gossip, and People has been dishing it out every week since 1974.
7. Family Circle
Not to be confused with the long-running comic panel Family Circus, Family Circle is aimed at keeping families healthy, well-fed, and wholesomely entertained, with recipes, tips, and ideas for vacation activities, holiday decorations, and more.
6. Good Housekeeping
Good Housekeeping covers much of the same ground as Family Circle, and has been doing it a lot longer — since 1885. Good Housekeeping and Family Circle are among the “Seven Sisters” of what are traditionally known as “women’s magazines.” Spoiler alert: There are more Sisters in this list.
5. Game Informer
Think video games are just time-sucks for idle teenagers to fry their brains with? Think again: Video games are big business, ensnaring kids and adults alike. For players who can tear themselves away from their joysticks long enough, Game Informer is there to provide game reviews, play tips, and more.
4. Better Homes and Gardens
Another of the Seven Sisters, Better Homes and Gardens skews more towards interior decoration, gardening, and landscaping but still has significant coverage for recipes and family entertainment.
3. Woman’s Day
The next time you’re waiting in the checkout line at the grocery store, take a gander at the magazines on display. You’ll notice that many of them are represented in this list, and Woman’s Day is no exception. Perhaps it’s no coincidence that Woman’s Day was first published in 1931 by the Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company, better known as the (now defunct) A&P supermarket chain.
2. AARP Magazine & 1. AARP Bulletin
That both of the top two most widely read magazines in the U.S. are published by the American Association of Retired Persons says something about our society, and that something is: We aren’t getting any younger. With circulations of over 23 million each, these two titles cover a wide variety of topics of interest to the 50-plus crowd, such as healthcare, retirement financing, and entertainment.
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