Despite frighteningly steep declines in newsstand sales, a new study shows that consumers are, in fact, reading magazines—though much of the time in public places, where copies are available for free.
According to McPheters & Company’s Study of Public Place Engagement, 45 percent of time spent reading magazines occurs specifically in waiting rooms, airplanes, hotels and other public places. With the exception of magazines read while traveling, almost all of this reading is of copies put out for visitors to read in waiting and reception areas.
The study, which shows that a total of 57 percent of all magazine reading takes place outside the home, is “further evidence that public place reading is a fundamental part of the consumption process for the magazine medium,” according to Condé Nast senior vice president Scott McDonald. His company supported the study, conducted among a 2700-person sample of adults across the country, along with Time Inc., Reader’s Digest, Source Interlink, Hachette Filipacchi Media U.S. and Magazine Publishers of America.
“[Public place readership] is one of the key ways that readers engage with magazine brands,” according to McDonald, “and provides substantial value for advertisers.” An average of 87 percent say they pay as much or more attention to magazines read in these locations. More than one third of respondents say they prefer to read in public places involved in the study—which included doctors’ and dentists’ offices, barber shops, beauty salons, gyms, car dealerships, planes, airline clubs and hotels—rather than at home. More than two thirds say they look for their favorite magazines in these public places. More than half say they use these places as a chance to try new magazines.