Foreign Affairs Circulation Breaks 160,000—42% Rise Since 2001

February 13, 2008 1:49 pm (EST)

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The total paid circulation of Foreign Affairs, the leading publication on international affairs and foreign policy, averaged 160,907 copies per issue in the second half of 2007, up 4% over the prior year. This marks the seventh consecutive year of growth for the 86-year-old bimonthly’s circulation, which has grown by 42% since 2001.

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Readership growth from 2006 to 2007 was accompanied by a 6% increase in advertising pages and 24% increase in ad revenue. Since 2001, ad pages have more than doubled—the magazine averaged 76 pages per issue in 2007 compared to 36 in 2001. The March/April 2008 issue will carry more than one hundred ad pages.

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In a challenging publishing climate, the magazine’s performance partly reflects Americans’ growing interest in global affairs: 79% of Foreign Affairs’ readership is in the United States. The magazine is published by the Council on Foreign Relations.

Sales of Foreign Affairs on newsstands continue to defy industry trends. Those sales have more than doubled since 2001, with each issue now selling almost 39,000 copies. Newsstand sales account for 24% of total circulation.

"As one of our fifty bestselling magazines (out of the over 5,000 we carry) and as a ’Top 10’ in the current events category, Foreign Affairs is a clear favorite of our customers,” said Jaime Carey, Vice President, Newsstand Barnes & Noble, Inc. "Achieving consistently strong sales issue after issue, and doing so while covering subjects of such great importance, makes Foreign Affairs a very special magazine to Barnes & Noble."

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By comparison, newsstand sales for the industry as a whole have been weak. "Only magazines with exceptional and unique content and with a clear and obvious value proposition to the reader will flourish in today’s consumer environment," said Cary Zel president of ProCirc, a leading circulation outsourcing firm. "There are simply too many other places to find commodity information. Foreign Affairs’ recent track record has proven it strikes a chord and has been able to effectively deliver to its target audience."

The heightened interest in global affairs has also generated more traffic for the magazine’s website, In 2001, the site attracted an average of 75,000 unique visitors each month. Today that number is above 210,000. Foreign Affairs now sells 50% of all new subscriptions via its website.

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In another measure of the magazine’s impact, a study conducted by Erdos and Morgan, the premier business-to-business research firm, ranks Foreign Affairs #1 in influence among U.S. opinion leaders, ahead of all other media, both print and broadcast, including the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post.

Foreign Affairs, which has been edited by James F. Hoge, Jr., since 1992, is known for publishing articles that drive the policy debate. For example, Foreign Affairs was the only magazine to publish essays by the eight leading presidential candidates outlining in detail their foreign policy agendas.


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