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A new doom for magazines: Smartphones

Hey you there, standing in line at the grocery store checking Twitter? You are a bad person


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Andrew Leonard
February 8, 2013 8:35PM (UTC)

The good news: Ever since I purchased my first iPhone, I've never been bothered by long lines at the grocery store. By the time I've checked my email, Facebook, Twitter, ESPN and the New York Times online, I'm watching the cashier tote up my bill. No more boredom! Yay! Quality of life, enhanced!

The bad news: The Financial Times' Emily Steel has the scoop: Off-the-rack magazine sales are getting hammered by a world of smartphone-addicted people just like me. Profession of journalism, battered again!

Data released on Thursday show a big decline in single-copy sales of U.S. magazines at newsstands and retail outlets, amid increased digital competition and reduced retail space. Single-copy sales fell 9.5 percent to about 26.7 million in 2012 from the previous year, according to the Alliance for Audited Media.

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"U.S. magazine executives," writes Steel, "call the habit the 'mobile blinder' after the vision-narrowing headgear worn by racehorses, and say the trend is wreaking havoc on the industry."

The connection between falling magazine sales and smartphones makes intuitive sense. We know that smartphone usage rates are growing very quickly. We know, from our own lived experience that any idle moment -- waiting for the bus, in the doctor's office, in line -- is easily occupied by a look at the phone. So of course we're buying fewer magazines. And so, technology delivers yet another sucker punch to the print publishing industry.

And yes, it's another thing to feel guilty about.


Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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