Over the course of the last few decades, print publications have been phased out in place of online publications. It’s the way of the world now. Most people prefer to read news online over print. However, print magazines seem to still have a place in the world. Millions of magazine copies are circulated per year in the United States alone. When we look at magazine circulation on a global scale, what are the best selling magazines in the world? In this article, I’ll answer that burning question. Without further delay, let’s take a look at the top ten best selling magazines in the world.
#10 – People
People is one of the largest magazines in America, with a readership of over 45 million adults. In 2011, it pulled in more ad revenue than any other American magazine, with $997 million. The magazine is well-known for publishing celebrity news and gossip, and it is also fairly well-known for its special “Sexiest Man Alive” and “Sexiest Woman Alive” issues, which are released on a yearly basis. People has been around since 1974, and its Sexiest Man Alive issues have been around since 1985, so it’s fair to call it a significant part of the publication’s history. Although People is still successful in print, it also has an online publication, which primarily posts celebrity and internet-related stories.
#9 – Family Circle
While magazines like People prefer to publish stories pertaining to celebrities and the entertainment industry, magazines like Family Circle are a little more modest. Family Circle is an American magazine that specializes in topics pertaining to home economics and women’s interests. The home-oriented magazine began publication in 1932, selling predominantly to mothers and wives in grocery stores. Today, this New York City-based publication circulates around 4 million issues per year. Family Circle is the first Meredith magazine to appear on this list, but I can assure you that it won’t be the only one. Keep reading!
#8 – National Geographic
Although National Geographic isn’t hugely popular in the United States, it is a global superpower. In 2013, it was recorded to have circulated 6.8 million units across the world. (Its United States circulation currently stands at approximately 3.5 million.) This magazine contains content that is typically more academic in nature, featuring articles that relate to science, history, and nature. National Geographic is also renowned for its photography, which is accentuated by the high quality glossy paper that the publication is printed on. As far as magazines go, this one has been around for a long time, too. Their first issue was published in 1888, and it was instrumental in keeping the public informed during the Cold War and the Great Depression.
#7 – Good Housekeeping
Good Housekeeping is the second women’s magazine on our list. This monthly publication was founded in 1885, and like many other magazines that were around during that time, saw a surge of popularity during the 1920s. Like many other women’s magazines, Good Housekeeping focuses on health, food, and fashion-related content. However, they have differentiated themselves by also publishing a lot of literary articles, as well. Over the years, famous writers like Virginia Woolf, Edwin Markham, and Somerset Maugham have contributed to the publication. The magazine also has a bit of a history as being a platform for social advocacy during the early 20th century.
#6 – Reader’s Digest
So far, every magazine that we have looked at seems to have a very specific type of reader in mind. Reader’s Digest is somewhat unique in that it is written to appeal to a much more broad audience. Reader’s Digest is a general interest, family-friendly magazine that is read all over the world. Although it was founded in the United States during the 1920s, today, it has a loyal readership in countries like New Zealand and Canada as well. The magazine is known to be particularly popular among wealthy families, and in 2006, it was said that more wealthy people read Reader’s Digest than magazines like Fortune. This may seem like a sort of narrow readership, but it’s kept this major magazine alive for almost 100 years now.
#5 – Better Homes & Gardens
As you have probably noticed by now, magazines that relate to home economics tend to become pretty popular. Better Homes & Gardens is, objectively, the most popular home economics magazines in the world. Better Homes & Gardens writes a little bit about cooking and dieting, but the bulk of its content has to do with interior decorating, entertaining, and crafting. Remember when I talked about how Family Circle wasn’t the last Meredith publication that you would see? Better Homes & Gardens is also published by Meredith, and it is by far their most popular magazine. For years, they have held the honor of being the fourth best selling magazine in the United States.
#4 – Game Informer
Compared to a lot of the other magazines on this list, Game Informer is practically a newborn. baby Game Informer is the most popular video game magazine in the country, and its popularity has exploded as the game industry has done the same. In 2015 alone, nearly 7 million copies were put into circulation. This magazine began publication in 1991 as more of a flyer than a magazine, published and sold in-store at Gamestop, a popular video game retailer. It may seem counter-intuitive for a video game-related magazine to be sold in print, but rest assured in knowing that Game Informer has a very strong online presence, as well. Since its massive redesign in 2009, the Game Informer website has seen a great deal of web traffic.
#3 – AARP The Magazine
This may seem surprising at first, but it makes a lot of sense once you really think about it. AAARP The Magazine is sent on a bi-monthly basis to every single member of the AARP. (For those who are uninformed, the AARP, or the American Association of Retired People, is a membership senior interest organization.) This lifestyle magazine is actually the most largely circulated magazine in the entirety of the United States, with over 23 million copies circulated in 2015 alone. Their content primarily focuses on health and age-related topics, and it often features interviews from older celebrities. You may also recognize AARP The Magazine by its former name, Modern Maturity. The publication rebranded itself to its current image in 2002.
#2 – Awake!
Awake! is a bi-monthly religious magazine published by Jehovah’s Witnesses, and it is the second most widely circulated magazine in the entire world. Although some Americans reading this may not be familiar with Awake!, keep in mind that this magazine is currently available in over 100 languages, and printed in 19 different countries. It’s been said that around 55 million copies are circulated every two months. The magazine’s first issue came in 1919, and it primarily contains articles relating to biblical history, health, and nature. As far as distribution goes, Awake! is mostly passed out the old fashioned way. Most copies are directly handed to individuals during house-to-house ministry, or left in public places like libraries and bus terminals.
#1 – The Watchtower
The Watchtower is a religious magazine published by Jehovah’s Witnesses, with around 59 million copies being circulated per bimonthly run. Sound familiar? The Watchtower is actually considered the companion magazine to Awake!, and its reach is a little longer than its sister. How are they actually different? To begin with, Awake!‘s subject matter doesn’t always have to do with religion — as I mentioned, there are frequent discussions of subjects like nature and health. The Watchtower is almost entirely related to its denomination, with content that relates to biblical prophecies, Christian morals, and biblical history. Like Awake!, the majority of this magazine is distributed by hand.