In the past 40 years, TIME has become a magazine of global reach and impact. By latest reckoning, some 32 million people read it each week, more than 23 million in the U.S. and the rest abroad. TIME now connects a dentist in Kyoto, a stockbroker in Bonn, an interior decorator in Boston--and five subscribers on tiny Tuvalu Island in the South Pacific (occupations unknown).
But who are you, TIME readers? According to figures gathered by Worldwide Marketing Information Director Tiit Gentalen, you are both similar and different. For one thing, some 10 million American women read TIME, compared with 13 million men. If you are a U.S. subscriber, your average age is just over 41. You are well educated, since 84% of you attended college and 39% went on to take graduate courses.
You are also affluent, with an annual household income of $50,600; 78% of you own your home and 94% your own car. You probably have a VCR, but 85% of you often turn to books for pleasure. Beyond that, you are physically active and enjoy attending sporting events as well as plays, the ballet and the opera.
You say you do not fit the statistical model? Well, no one likes to be summed up as a stereotype. In fact, it was Senior Writer Lance Morrow who most cogently identified the essential quality that unites the TIME family: "I like the people who read the magazine," he says. "I like their savvy. I like their brains, even when they're disagreeing with me. I'm grateful for the intelligence of our audience, the classiness of its perception about things." Allows Gentalen: "That is the best description of TIME readers I've ever seen, and there is not a statistic in it."
TIME's readers are also literate, informed and involved, and they write to TIME in impressive numbers, an average of 54,000 letters a year. British Journalist Phil Pearman has compiled some 1,900 excerpts into Dear Editor: Letters to Time Magazine 1923-1984 (Lansdowne Press; $24.95). It includes such memorable contributions as Franklin Roosevelt's compliment to the magazine as a "pioneer and innovator, [with an] originality that has been refreshing and oftentimes delightful" (Feb. 28, 1938) and Bob Hope's complaint that he had been "flattered in reverse as only TIME usually does" (Oct. 11, 1943). The project was managed by TIME's promotion department, one of whose art directors, Leonard Wolfe, supervised the selection of colorful illustrations, ranging from TIME covers to contemporary photographs and magazine ads, that give the book a richly nostalgic flavor.