Rolling Stone's Cover of Boston Bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Doubled Magazine Sales
All publicity is good publicity... at least for Rolling Stone. The magazine's recent controversial cover —a blown-up self-portrait of Boston bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev — apparently doubled sales of the issue, despite being boycotted by a bunch of major retailers.
Opinions were fierce and mixed about the cover, which critics argued "romanticized" the alleged bomber and painted the terrorism suspect as a pseudo-rock star. Fans of the cover fought back, reminding everyone that the same issue had been used by the New York Times.
Many retailers refused to sell the issue, particularly those based near Boston and in New England. CVS, Rite-Aid, K-Mart, Walmart, 7-Eleven and others boycotted the issue in protest, but adamant readers didn't give up. The "Boston Bomber Cover" sold just over 13,000 copies — more than double last year's average per issue.
Only five percent of Rolling Stone's profits actually come from retail sales, so the boycott was always intended to be more symbolic than financially effective. The article accompanying the cover, "Jahar's World," was interesting but had little new information. At almost 9,000 comments, five thousand Facebook 'likes,' and three thousand Tweets, we'd vouch that the media storm surrounding the issue led more readers to Janet Reitman's cover story.
Now that it's August and the issue isn't being sold anywhere at all, issues are going on eBay for up to a hundred dollars apiece.