What do almost twelve million people in Germany have in common? They all read the Apotheken Umschau magazine. And why does that matter? Well, in the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t, of course. It’s just – at least for me – another example of ‘Germanness’, if that term exists.

Apotheken Umschau, or ‘Pharmacies’ Review’, is a German health magazine that is available for free in pharmacies (which have to pay for it) as a customer magazine. It has been published since 1956 and was the brainchild of a very clever publisher: Produce a magazine about all things health, distribute it in a place where there is a very receptive audience and sell advertising to pharma companies and the like – and in our digital times, where print newspapers and magazines are struggling like never before, this formula still seems to work for this particular publication.

The most recent figures of Allensbacher Markt- und Werbeträgeranalyse, which analyses media use in Germany, have once again confirmed that Apotheken Umschau, published twice a month, is Germany’s most widely read magazine. And not just that, people really dive into it, with an average reading time of an impressive 90 minutes. Anyone in the media business knows that’s quite something. The magazine is available in about 80% of German pharmacies and their owners continue to pay for it – because people expect to get their Apotheken Umschau, when they pick up a prescription or buy something else in a pharmacy. Some even time their visit with the publication date so that they know for sure that the publication is ready on the counter to be picked up.

Nothing of this is surprising to me. Because, in comparison, Germans are a nation obsessed with their health and I’m using the term “obsessed” deliberately, after having been around the world a bit. So, naturally, a magazine on that topic will be read widely. By the way, almost twice as much as the number two on the list of most-read German publications, which is, just in case you’re wondering, a magazine about (well, of course!) – cars…

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