The Post says In Touch "sold about 500,000 copies on newsstands, about half the number it sold a few weeks ago with the late Brittany Murphy on the cover. Insiders said political covers don't usually sell well for supermarket weeklies."
The magazine has not yet posted sales figures for the cover to the Audit Bureau of Circulation's Rapid Report, so for now we'll have to take the insiders' word for it. But it's not strictly true that political covers land with a thud at the newsstand — it depends on which politicians, which magazines, and when.
After all, People had a good run with Palin baby covers: both the May 2009 cover of Bristol and Tripp and the September 2008 cover of Sarah Palin with Piper and Trig sold around a half million copies more than average. But then again, before Palin's book and television deluge, the story may have seemed fresher, and People's wholesome, more general-interest tilt might have made it seem like a more credible venue for this kind of story.
Then there was Us's flirtation with politics during both the primaries and the election (with its controversial Sarah Palin "Babies, Lies & Scandal" cover in the fall of 2008, which sold fine, if not fabulously.) Later, the February 2009 Michelle Obama cover sold 750,580 copies — slightly below average. But while the magazine may not have gained in newsstand sales, it got to cast itself as a serious player in the conversation du jour.
So what accounts for the Palin's weak return on investment for In Touch's reported $100,000 payout? Maybe In Touch's readers really don't care, and never have, about the private lives of sort-of politicians. Or maybe Palin fatigue has kicked in and they're no longer the political-celebrity crossovers they once were. Something tells me Scott Brown — and his daughters — are already getting a lot of calls this morning.
Sarah Palin Cover A Dud [NYP]