So much for the big retail boycott of Rolling Stone's August issue. You know, the one with Boston Bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's photo on the cover. It turns out that retail sales of the issue were just fine — even more than fine, actually. They were more than double their average sales-per-issue for the past year.
Adweek explains that, based on point-of-sale data from the Magazine Information Network, 13,232 retail copies of the issue sold between July 19 and 29. That number accounts for sales at just under 1,500 retailers, but still indicates that sales were substantially higher than normal overall. But retail only accounts for about 5 percent of magazine sales for Rolling Stone anyway, according to Adweek, so it's not like the boycott of several national and regional retail chains of the issue was going to really dent its circulation. That boycott, which included CVS, Walgreens, and Stop & Shop, was prompted by loud public outcry against the magazine's decision to publish an image of Tsarnaev that some thought glorified him.
The issue also prompted a Massachusetts State Police officer to leak photographs of the bomber, bloodied and defeated, as authorities closed in on him days after the bombings. "This is the real Boston bomber. Not someone fluffed and buffed for the cover of Rolling Stone magazine," Sean Murphy told Boston magazine. Murphy was quickly put under an internal investigation.
Meanwhile, the actual article the Rolling Stone cover is meant to illustrate has been well-received, once people actually got around to reading it.