Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Royal Birth Bolsters Struggling Celebrity Weeklies in U.S

Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Royal Birth Bolsters Struggling Celebrity Weeklies in U.S

Article excerpt

After sales fell in the first half of the year, coverage of the birth has sold hundreds of thousand of copies.

U.S. celebrity weeklies reported large declines in newsstand sales for the first half of the year, according to figures released last week, but editors did not let the numbers get them down. They were too distracted by baby news.

The birth on July 22 of Prince George, third in line to the British throne, brought these publications millions of readers eager for news about things like the royal baby's nursery and astrological sign and about Prince William's paternity leave. Royal-watchers and fashion devotees devoured news about the former Kate Middleton's first days of motherhood.

For the struggling weeklies, the royal baby has become the story that keeps on selling. People magazine's "Royal Baby Joy!" collectors' issue was expected to sell 1.4 million copies during the two weeks it remained on newsstands, said Larry Hackett, managing editor. He added that it had been the magazine's best-selling issue so far this year. And the issue released a week later, with the cover "First Days Home," was expected to sell a million newsstand copies.

While Us Weekly missed getting the first royal baby photographs on its Aug. 5 cover, Mike Steele, editor in chief of the magazine, said he expected that the Aug. 12 cover, "Kate's First Week," would sell about 450,000 copies.

"There's definitely been a royal baby boom," Mr. Steele said. "Our readers love Will and Kate. They're unique among public figures because they're 100 percent likable."

Royal-baby watchers also caused record traffic on celebrity Web sites. People magazine reported that the numbers of unique visitors to its Web site on the day Prince George was born and on the day he left the hospital were 46 percent higher than average. On the day of the birth, unique visitors to People's mobile site jumped 70 percent. While most posts to People's Facebook page generate about 1,000 "likes," the royal baby prompted 22,000.

Mr. Steele said recorded the most traffic in its history on July 23, the day the duchess of Cambridge left the hospital. …

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