US mags do it by numbers

American magazines are playing with  numbers. They are doubling them.   Not their circulation figures.   No, the numbers they use on some of their special issues:, on their cover blurbs,  For example The 50 Wealthiest Families in America, The 50 Top Stars in Hollywood, The World's 50 Best Holiday Resorts.  This year the magic figure is now 100.


People  magazine this year for example has an issue with the cover line The 100 Most Beautiful People.  Maxim has The Hottest 100.   This week’s Los Angeles Times  magazine lists The  100 Most Powerful People in California. Vanity Fair matches that with The 100 Most Powerful People in the World.


Why the doubling up? Is it inflation? Or just a case of one-upmanship.  At Vanity Fair a spokesman said they were trying to give their list a  broader, more global reach.   Larry Hackett, managing editor of People, told the NY Times his editors were “so beguiled this year  by the number of fabulous faces, they decided to double the number”


In fact magazines find such special  issues do sell..    And they often  generate a lot of publicity. People magazine’s  Most Beautiful People issue this year was topped only in

sales by the one that featured   pictures of Brad Pitt and  Angelina Jolie’s  baby   Shiloh on the cover.   Time magazine celebrates its Top 100 list of Most  Influental People  with a lavish black-tie party in New York.


Some editors profess to hate lists – but that hasn’t halted their growth.  “Magazines do too many lists” says David Granger, the editor of  Esquire – but that hasn’t deterred the magazine from compiling its own  Top 100 list for  its October issue. But Esquire’s list will be different from the others, Granger insists. It will be a list of items and things that the editors predict will make news in the coming years.  For example: A country to watch: Egypt.   


And how did his magazine settle the new magic number of 100?  “We debated that quite a bit, whether it should be 100 or not” he said. ‘”We thought 101 sounded too much like a cigarette ad.”


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