Testing, Testing, Testing… Magazine Covers for Every Taste, Gender, Color…

May 11, 2012

No two magazines are alike and no two covers are the same.  The magazine industry seems to have discovered the art of split covers en-mass.  It is rare to see a magazine with one cover anymore.  Through my travels across the country, and overseas, I was able to collect a variety of magazines that shared the same date, same issue, but different covers.  The covers differed in the treatment of the nameplate, images, cover lines, colors, etc…  Below is a gallery of images with a brief explanation of what some magazines are testing or just trying to grab readers’ attention in one way or the other (no pun intended here…)

Here are some of the magazines in random order:

People Style Watch:  A different nameplate…

April 2012

There are two different covers for this magazine. The differences easily detected are the name, stretched across the top on one, and broken apart and stacked on the other cover. A $1 off coupon is attached on one and also has the tantalizing offer of “Exclusive Discounts for You!” where the other magazine has neither. The feature story is presented in a different placement as well, on one it is centered, midway the page, and the other cover has it aligned left, yet far enough from the edge to allow for the same sidebar story on Spring’s Hottest Shoes, while it still holds the midway spot.

Weight Watchers:  Different images, different colors…

March/April 2012

This issue of Weight Watchers has two covers. One has Charles Barkley, with the color orange (possibly due to the basketball in Barkley’s hands) used to highlight certain words on the page, and the other cover is a slim, attractive young woman wearing a green sweater, with a coordinating sequined top beneath. Green is the chosen color on this cover, with the highlighted words inviting us to do as the main story suggests: Go green, get lean. Inside the cover, on the table of contents, Weight Watchers calls the reader’s attention to the fact that there are two covers and invites consumers to respond with an e-mail as to which one they prefer.

Men’s Fitness: The female touch…

May 2012

Two covers this issue, one for the subscriber, the other for the newsstands. Both have the very enigmatic Beto Perez, the founder of Zumba, on the cover, but the newsstand issue also has a very provocative, left-corner shot of Scarlett Johansson from The Avengers, while the subscriber’s get only their address label located there. The cover lines are also arranged differently on each magazine, and on the newsstand issue, there is a promo shot of Jason Kidd, and the command to “Get Lean” with him. The story “Bigger Arms in Less Time” is more predominantly featured on the newsstand issue, and there is an identifying arrow pointing toward Perez that is missing from the subscriber’s, as well.

Men’s Fitness:  The cover lines: Sex vs. Ripped…

June 2012

Two covers for June, subscriber and newsstand. Newsstand gets the promise of “Your Hotter Sex Issue,” while the subscriber gets “Ripped in Six Weeks.” The cover story about Stacy Keibler is the same, except for color and font size (her name is bigger and in red on the newsstand issue and the title is done in white, versus black on the subscriber’s copy).

Entertainment Weekly:  A sexier image for the subscribers?

April 6,  2012

Two covers for this issue. The newsstand offering has a big, splashy photo of Jennifer Lawrence, in her Hunger Games regalia, living on the cover. And the subscriber’s edition has a much calmer, albeit, provocative, image of a nude, female back, arms crossed in front, and one hand clutching the New York Times Bestseller, “Fifty Shades of Grey.” The newsstand issue devotes the entire front cover to The Hunger Games, with a small mention of James Cameron’s Titanic 3-D (complete with a small photo of a partially-sinking ship), and the Fifty Shades of Grey “Exclusive,” as it is written here, while on the subscriber’s cover it is designated as Fifty Shades of Grey “Exposed,” and Cameron’s Titanic 3-D has no image. So, the cover lines are very different on the two magazines.

Women’s Health:  No sex for subscribers…

May 2012

Two Covers for the May issue, newsstand and subscriber. If you buy it from the newsstand, you can have the “Hottest Sex Ever,” and also have your attention drawn to a story on how to “Look Great Naked,” by having checkmarks beside each of the criteria, but with the subscriber’s issue, no such bonuses. There are minute differences in the other cover lines, such as line placement of words, but no major changes anywhere else.

Seventeen:  A collector’s edition…

May 2012

Two newsstand covers, one has Justin Bieber, the other Chloe Grace Moretz. The Bieber cover is designated as a “Special Collector’s Cover.” Moretz’s issue has her story, and a chance to win tickets to see her in Dark Shadows, and Bieber’s issue has his story on the making of his new album, but both offer a free poster of JB inside the magazines. The Moretz issue also has a small photo of Bieber next to the poster offer. The other cover lines are arranged a bit differently on each magazine, as well.

Real Simple:  Different cover lines…

May 2012

Two newsstand covers. One, you can have a cleaner house every day, the other you can be smarter, happier, and healthier. The smarter, happier, and healthier issue also has the cover line, “A Cleaner House Every Day,” but favor wasn’t returned on the other cover. Other than that, everything is the same.

Southern Living:  Cover line placements: Right or left…

April 2012

Two newsstand covers, both with the same luscious-looking strawberry meringue cake. The main differences are one is left-sided cover lines, the other is right-sided. Other than that, they are alike.

The Economist: Europe vs. USA

March 24 – 30, 2012

Two newsstand covers. One is the US edition, which has a cover story about Cuba; the other is the UK version and has a story about Britain’s budget for global business. The British edition includes the Cuba story in one of its cover lines, as does the American version with the British budget story. Other than a piece on Mario Monti in the UK edition, all the other cover lines are the same.

Elle US:  Cover lines, images and design treatment…

May 2012

There are three different covers for the May 2012 issue. While all three feature the singer and actress, Rihanna, and the two newsstand issues are very similar, except for the placement and angles of the cover lines; the subscriber’s copy is a totally different entity. The photograph of the singer is far-removed from the mega-entertainer look that she has on the newsstand copies, and the text on the cover is much less spread out and more compact. There are two cover titles missing from the subscriber’s issue also.

Elle US:  More cloth for sensitive eyes and regions of the country…

April 2012

There are three covers for this issue, two newsstand editions and a subscriber’s. The newsstand issue offers a very pregnant Jessica Simpson, one nude, but strategically covered. The background colors are different, but the cover lines are the same. The subscriber’s issue features Heidi Klum, and while the Jessica Simpson story is listed, Klum owns the cover. It’s also missing one cover line story the newsstand issues have.

Elle UK: Sister sister…

April 2012

There are two newsstand covers for the UK editions, one with Mary-Kate Olsen, the other with Ashley. The cover lines are the same, but the background colors are different, and the Olsen’s first names are listed according to the cover: Ashley’s first on hers, and Mary-Kate’s first on her page.

Winq. Netherlands:  Same magazine, different language, different name

March/April 2012


Spring 2012

The global man’s magazine has two different names, two different versions, but both have MaDonna as their cover girl. The cover lines are designed the same, but the content is different, but other than that, the entire look of both magazines is exact.

GQ:  Three images, same magazine…

April 2012

Three different covers for this issue, all of them designated as “Special Issues.” Cover lines, color scheme, and design are all exactly alike; the only difference is the models: one is rapper, Drake, and the other two are actors Dave Franco and John Slattery.

Lucky:  Only at Target…

May 2012

Two different newsstand covers. Salma Hayek graces both covers, but one issue offers a tag the consumer can scan at Target to win a $5000 shopping spree. The other offers one different cover line. Everything else is the same.

Glamour:  Cover line treatment…

May 2012

Two different newsstand covers, same model (Lauren Conrad) and same overall look, but very different cover lines. While some of the stories are the same, the words used to describe those articles are very different on each magazine. The only difference for Glamour: the cover lines.

Juxtapoz: Creating a collector’s item…

May 2012

Four different newsstand covers, with the cover line (line-as in only one) the same, just four different photos and artistic images on each cover.

Harper’s Bazaar: Subscribers deserve less…

May 2012

Two different covers, both with Penélope Cruz on the cover. One, the subscribers’, has just a faded image of her face, that showcases her eyes, no cover lines, except for “Eye On The Season,” the other, the newsstand’s cover, is filled with all the stories inside both magazines. It’s an amazing contrast.

Entrepreneur: Red sells more on the stands?

April 2012

There are two different covers for this issue: one is red for the newsstand and the other white for the subscribers. The cover lines are somewhat rearranged, but nothing too drastic. Overall, other than the actual magazine color, the other differences are minimal.

Hope you’ve enjoyed the journey…


  1. so beautiful magazines cover

  2. I have both Elle and Bazaar, and I HATE the subscriber covers. Every issue I’ve gotten I’ve hated. These are two magazines with drastically different covers every issue. I have also found that I tend to read them less as the covers don’t appeal to me, although when I’m at a friend’s place and see the same magazine with the news-stand cover, I’ll read it. Have even emailed customer service, to find out why I get different covers and how to get the news-stand issues, they don’t care. The reply was ‘Thank you for contacting Harper’s Bazaar. We can’t convert covers.’

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: