Magazines – R.I.P.?

This evening I was typing in a comment on a new blog Letter Better, and as it grew longer and longer, I realized that I shouldn’t monopolize that space, and just do my own post on the topic.

Here is the original post. The title is “How Does Your Reader Buy Books and Other Things You Should Already Know”.

The blogger wrote: > “Know thy audience,” could be the first rule (and only one that matters) in any class on the business of publishing. It usually means, “Understand who will be reading your book,” meaning the person who likes to read your kind of book,<

Comic books and general publishing are the subject, but magazines are mentioned, too, which opened the door (as Perry Mason used to tell Hamilton Burger).

Magazines have increased incredibly in price. Generally, quality is poorer, the content is low, they are stuffed with rude, offensive advertising and have become little more than catalogs and propaganda. And never mind that a huge portion of advertising consists of pharmaceuticals. Pages and pages of it.

Then there are the lessons in liberalism.

Better Homes and Gardens has highlighted very favorable quotes about Al Gore and then they put First-Teacher-in-your-face Michelle Obama on the cover. How about something nice about Ricky Perry? Right, I'm still waiting for that one.

Guess what? I canceled my subscription.

Those of us in fly-over country are too stupid to know what to think about anything, so the editors/writers have taken an increasingly teacher-like attitude to us, their readers. The people who keep them in business.

Lately I've been sorting through a big stack of magazines – clipping out pictures and articles to use in altered book projects – and I'm seeing a steady decline in content but I don't think the professionals realize it. They know their sales are down, but they either don't understand why or they're too stubborn to change.

Their solution? Two page spreads telling us why we should be buying magazines. Not an improvement to a better quality product, but just telling us dumb Americans to buy more.

Someone should remind them that books can be bought online and mailed to my house cheaper than I can buy most new magazines. That the internet is chocked full of beautiful pictures and quality writing. That I can buy vintage magazines at the antique mall for about the same price as a new one and usually the quality is surprisingly better.

Victoria
is an exception. It folded a few years back but restarted again a couple of years ago (by following that link you can order a free issue). It's not exactly the same as it used to be; some aspects have improved, others need more work. But it's a quality magazine and so far it’s avoiding the overbearing tone they had adopted before the failure. I think the current editors understand their readers. Ladies don't buy it to keep up with gurus. We choose it for beauty and loveliness and Victoria delivers.

Big publications aren't too big to fail.

Remember, McCall's is no more.

You can thank Rosie O’Donnell for that.

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2 Comments

Filed under Current Events, Shopping

2 responses to “Magazines – R.I.P.?

  1. Thanks for reading, Carla! I hope you didn’t think my “change your ways” post was targeted to readers — it was targeted to publishers. If you feel your favorite magazines aren’t listening to you, that’s a pretty compelling piece of evidence that they need to improve their interactivity.

    I was writing less about content selection and more about the overall publishing strategy — less “what do they like to read?” and more “what do they like to spend and where?” I’m glad it opened the door, though. 🙂

    Question for you, though — would you pay a premium price for a magazine that REALLY securely fit with your interests? I’ve noticed that I pass up the under-$5 magazines (usually) because they’re so general or about celebrity gossip and stuff. But then I find myself spending $10 on monster magazines (I’m a bit of a geek) because they’re exactly what I wanted. I used to think price was a major factor for me but apparently it isn’t.

    • Do you mean where do the consumers spend their money (for products advertised) or what publications do they spend their money on?

      Jesse, I’m embarrassed to tell you that yes, I’ll “pay a premium price for a magazine that REALLY securely fit” with my interests. The Somerset Life magazine is one. It is outrageous to me that I pay $15.00 for a magazine. Thankfully it only comes out about 4 times a year. Somerset publishes lots of different titles that I like, and if they weren’t so expensive, I’d buy more of them. But even though I’m willing to buy them, I don’t very often, because I’m cheap and it’s just too costly.

      The under $5.00 magazines? I don’t buy very many of them, either. It had been years since I’d seen a copy of Good Housekeeping until a friend recently gave me a stack. While I realize that the editors think that my generation will die off soon and they have to appeal to a younger audience, I was appalled at the content. Now come on – a blurb about Madonna in Good Housekeeping?! Yikes. No wonder I don’t waste my money on it anymore.

      And during my last trip to the doctor, I looked through a fairly recent copy of Woman’s Day. This is one that I started buying in the early 1970s, but drifted away from. And even though it’s about the cheapest one on the newstand, I wouldn’t waste a dime on it anymore.

      I have subscriptions to National Review, Victoria and Country Living (and C.L. is on probation with me). There are several more that I’d love to have subscriptions to, but I have to draw the line somewhere.

      Your post was thought-provoking.

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