Wealthy Reading More Than Ever

Posted on September 4, 2008

There has been a lot of doom and gloom in the newspaper and magazine business because of falling readership. But a new Ipsos study shows that the wealthy are reading print publications slightly more than they did just five years ago. more than ever.

Respondents making more than $100,000 annually said their average hours online had grown to 22.1 each week from 10.7, while the time they said they spent watching TV sunk to 18.6 hours from 23.7 in the 2003 survey. And they said their time spent listening to the radio had declined slightly. But they said they're regularly reading an average of 15.3 print publications, a notch above 15.1 five years earlier. Readers making more than $250,000 said they read just as many publications, 23.8 now, as they did in 2003.

"The conventional wisdom for print is 'Woe is me,'" said Bob Shullman, president of Ipsos Mendelsohn. "But if you look at this, at least among the affluent population, readership of issues per capita, it's staying constant."

The magazine business has its worries, to be sure: High gas prices are reducing drives to the supermarket while the broader economic slump makes readers think twice before buying new magazines. Newsstand sales, as a result, are looking grim this year. Ad-page sales are equally dour, down 7.42% across the monthlies through September, according to the Media Industry Newsletter. Newspapers, for their part, are fighting far darker demons.

But these problems don't affect the affluent market the same way as they do everyone else, said Ted D'Amico, senior VP-research, Ipsos Mendelsohn. "Readership has held its own among the affluent segment," Mr. D'Amico said. "Why is this the case? There are two factors. One, education. And they can afford magazines."

Those with more disposable income -- and education -- have more hours in the day to read newspapers, magazines and books. And businesspeople read a large number of periodicals. That's good news for journalists and freelancers and a small bright spot for struggling magazines and newspapers.

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