A screen shot of OK! Magazine's cover, which features the death of Michael Jackson
A screen shot of OK! Magazine's cover, which features the death of Michael Jackson - 
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STEVE CHIOTAKIS: This is kind of a macabre thought. But celebrity deaths are big business. Take for example, entertainment magazines. A famous person's mortality can boost sales by tens of thousands of copies.

But Michael Jackson's death came at a bad time for celebrity rags such as People, In Touch and Us Weekly. They'd just gone to press on this week's issues, and had to post online updates.
The magazine called OK! is the first of its kind to hit newsstands today. But it won't be basking in the limelight either. As Ashley Milne-Tyte reports.

ASHLEY MILNE-TYTE: The celebrity rags have been beaten to the newsstands. Time and Newsweek just published Michael Jackson issues. Abdul Chaudhury is a newsagent in midtown Manhattan. He's sold 20 copies of Time's special issue so far -- as opposed to the usual two or three.

ABDUL CHAUDHURY: Newsweek same. They selling very good now. You know people are seeing I put in the window over there, and also, when they see they come in and they buy it.

Each costs a dollar more than its regular cover price. Samir Husni directs the Magazine Innovation Center at the University of Mississippi. He says Jackson's death is a bigger deal to Time's and Newsweek's readers because of their age. They remember Jackson the pop sensation. In Touch and Us Weekly fans on the other hand...

SAMIR HUSNI: I mean they are more of the Britney Spears-type generation. For them he's the troubled man, he's the person with all kinds of problems. So there's not as much following.

He says the celebrity magazines will still sell well -- The lives and deaths of the rich and famous are their specialty after all. But for once their more sober rivals have an edge.

I'm Ashley Milne-Tyte for Marketplace.