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Whatever Happened To Teen Magazines?

They used to sell millions, now they're dying out at an alarming rate. Here's why.

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It's always funny to reflect on the names that magazines could have had. Steve Bush, the art director, wanted to call it 'Sasha'. We had to call it Seventeen because that was the right title for a magazine for 14-year-olds. The publishers of the American magazine of the same name made legal noises and so we had to come up with an alternative. Peter Strong, the publisher, suggested adding the word 'just'. It wasn't until years later I realised he must have got that idea from the Beatles song "I Saw Her Standing There".

Teen magazines were big business: in 1998, the top 11 titles, including Smash Hits and Just 17, sold more than 2.4 million copies a month.

By 2006, six titles were left selling more than 550,000 copies a month.

And now there are only a few left as laptops, smartphones and tablets become standard for teenagers. More (2013), Sugar (2011), Cosmo Girl (2008), and many others have shut.


The whole teen market went through a bumpy 1990s when lads' mags became popular and female-focused titles started targeting older girls and women.

Then the onset of the "celeb" magazine, led by Heat and others, also went after this crowded market.

There is still a market for printed magazines, but with the pace of smartphone and tablet adoption it looks limited - especially when targeting people born after the year 2000, who have grown up with ubiquitous internet access.

The Daily Mail's runaway digital success story MailOnline has shown how quickly a print brand can build a huge online audience - nine million browsers a day - but no niche magazine brand has yet to make that leap, nor make a serious living (one comparable to the heyday of print) from digital replica editions.


Mizz was selling around 60,000 copies in 2009, but its circulation fell to about half that. The publisher described it as a "fun and trendy 'life guide' for 10-14 year old girls".

Teens are getting those fun and trendy tips from elsewhere these days.

According to Ofcom, 77% of people aged 16 to 24 own a smartphone, which is 50 percent higher than the UK as a whole.