City Newsstand is known for stocking an array of niche publications. Credit: Richard A. Chapman/Sun-Times

On January 7, 2015, at 11:30 AM two gunmen, brothers Chérif and Saïd Kouachi, entered the offices of satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris. They killed 12 people and injured 11 before making their escape by car. The two days that followed saw six more victims, with the two gunmen and an additional shooter named Amedy Coulibaly also killed.

When City Newsstand announced that it would stock copies of the post-attack edition of Charlie Hebdo at its Evanston and Irving Park locations, the calls came in almost immediately.

“The interest from the public ramped up fairly quickly and stayed pretty constant,” says Eric Ismond, manager at the Chicago-Main City Newsstand at 860 Chicago Ave. in Evanston.

The newsstand, which is known regionally for stocking an incredible array of niche publications from around the world, had stopped stocking Charlie Hebdo back in 2007 due to low demand. But making the first issue since the attack available was an easy decision.

“We knew people would be interested in getting it or at least seeing it,” Ismond said. “As part of our mission to have something for everybody here, we made the inquiries to see if we could get it.”

The company ordered copies through the same supplier it uses for other French-language magazines. The only issue was finding out how many copies would become available and when. The worldwide demand for the paper, plus Charlie Hebdo‘s low circulation, made this number unpredictable. Eventually the company learned it would have only a small number of copies—six at each location.

The cover of issue No. 1178 depicted the prophet Muhammad holding up a “Je suis Charlie” sign in front of a green background, with “All is forgiven” is written above him in French.

The first of the newspapers were available on January 23, 2015. Ismond says that the first customer lined up outside the Evanston location that day at 5 AM. Most of the queue that day left empty-handed.

“We had two or three dozen people outside the door when we opened,” Ismond says. “By that time we had found out we were going to be getting another much larger shipment, so we made the decision to start taking reservations from people for that second shipment.”

The newsstand received roughly 200 additional copies a week later.

“We only had one or two people complain about having to wait in line,” Ismond says. “But other than that we’ve had nothing but positive feedback from the public as far as our decision to carry it.”

A third Charlie Hebdo shipment eventually came too. By April 2015 copies of the postattack edition sold out at the newsstand’s Evanston location. 

The company has kept the weekly editions in stock since then. Interest peaked again after the November 13 attacks in Paris and the northern suburb of Saint-Denis that left 130 dead and hundreds wounded.

“There might have been a short-lived spike in people inquiring about [Charlie Hebdo and other French publications], but I don’t know that we’ve seen that much long-term increase,” Ismond says.

The newsstand plans to stock the special anniversary edition of Charlie Hebdo, which was published Wednesday.

Cartoonist Laurent “Riss” Sourisseau, who was injured in the January attack, drew the cover and wrote an editorial defending secularism. The cover depicts a blood-stained, bearded man, representing God, carrying a Kalashnikov on his back next to the French text “One year on: the assassin is still out there.”

A collection of cartoons from the five slain cartoonists is also included in the 32-page double issue.

Ismond says that he had not heard anyone ask about the paper yet. He expects issues of the special edition to be available at the newsstand sometime in the next two weeks.