Rolling Stone finds controversy sells

The much reviled Boston bomber article doubled newsstand sales for the magazine, even after some stores banned the issue.

By Aimee Picchi Aug 2, 2013 3:35PM

August 2013 Rolling Stone cover (© Rolling Stone)Remember those threats of boycotts against Rolling Stone's Boston bomber issue? Well, it turns out the effort backfired. 

Retail sales of the issue more than doubled compared with average per-issue sales for the past year, The Hollywood Reporter notes, citing data from Magazine Information Network. The publication sold 13,232 copies of the issue, which featured a dreamy-looking photo of accused bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. 

Still, the publisher didn't respond to a request for comment from MSN moneyNOW about sales in New England, where several chains refused to stock the publication, or on potential subscriber losses. Amid the furor over the cover, some readers promised to cancel their annual subscriptions.

Among the companies refusing to stock the issue were CVS (CVS) and New England-based Tedeschi food stores. But newsstand sales are a relatively small slice of Rolling Stone's readership, comprising roughly 5% of its total circulation. 

While some readers condemned the publication for glamorizing the bomber, Slate's Mark Joseph Stern called the cover "brilliant" for depicting the alleged terrorist with tousled hair and dewy eyes, subverting the public's image of what a terrorist should look like.

The article itself, which details Tsarnaev's change from a popular student into an alleged criminal, has garnered just a fraction of the cover's attention.

The boost in single-copy sales shows that outrage can be a hot selling point. The magazine's 1970 cover featuring murderer Charles Manson, the Hollywood Reporter notes, was not only a best-seller, but also won a National Magazine Award. 

Follow Aimee Picchi on Twitter at @aimeepicchi

More on moneyNOW

Aug 2, 2013 5:21PM
Naw ! really ?  It must be the reason MSN, AT&T and Yahoo keep shoving celebrity news down our throats on our home pages 24/7. I hate it. I don't give a rat's behind what the Hollywood types, singers, rappers and anybody else who thinks they are somebody does in their life. Sick of hearing about Miley, Justin B, Beyoncé, you name them. Rolling Stone sucks. You're either make dust or you are eating it. If you read about somebody else making dust then you are eating it.
Aug 4, 2013 9:23AM
I read a issue back in the 80's it was crap then as it is now
Aug 3, 2013 2:49PM
Does anybody still read Rolling Stone? I thought it went out of circulation after jerry Garcia died. HAHAHA
Aug 3, 2013 7:16AM
They're just finding that out????? I think they knew that from day 1.
Aug 5, 2013 6:05PM

I did my part to decrease their sales on this issue.  Every store I went to had this issue taken off the rack and deposited under shelves or in some far reaches of the store where no one could find them. 


F you Rolling Stone.

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