I was in Toronto last weekend for my nephew’s wedding, and while we were prancing around that lovely and lively city, I ducked into a newsstand and spent the better part of a precious hour devouring the Canadian and European magazines. I no longer do that in the States unless I’m in a big newsstand in NYC. Many of my favorite magazines (Domino, House and Garden, Cottage Living, Blueprint, O at Home and Gourmet) have been served a swift death.
Leaning against the shelf of magazines, I couldn’t help but wonder, “Has the American reading public moved on? If so, where are they?” Well, they are certainly on the move. Let’s look at the numbers from last year: It seems declining print ads are the culprit of the killing fields in the magazine world. According to the Publishers Information Bureau, magazines lost 58,340 ad pages in 2009. Hearst Publishing lost almost 3,400 ad pages. Conde Nast lost more than 8,000 ad pages, led by the still kicking Architectural Digest, W and Conde Nast Traveler. Hachette lost 1,661 ad pages.
What happens to those faithful readers? Right now you are reading a blog. I am a blogger. I used to be a magazine writer, but when the winds started to shift, I ventured into the virtual world. For the most part, it’s been an exciting and challenging learning experience on the technical end. Having immediate feedback in the form of a conversation like we have here seems to be the best blogger perk. That can’t happen on paper. When I spoke with the ex-editor of House and Garden, and author of Slow Love, a memoir about losing a job in the magazine world, Dominique Browning had this to say about the topic: “The wave of digital is exciting. There is an immediacy to putting your ideas down without waiting for a six month turnaround.”
Next: Online magazines and digital readers
The obvious popularity of the iPad, Kindle and the new ultra thin and flexible Skiff Reader that is designed specifically for magazine and newspaper content, may have the capability to trample the print media.
Whether we love print magazines or not, I think there is a need to explore the digital horizon. Since we each have our own likes and individual interests, here is a list of hundreds of online magazines. My new favorite online home design magazine is Lonny. This shelter magazine has caught my attention because it is so well designed (it’s founded by an ex-Domino staffer). Read more about Lonny in this New York Times article.
I love them…magazines. And, I’ve let them go. Not totally (I still have a few subscriptions), because I don’t own a digital reading device other than my laptop, and I am not interested in reading on my laptop in bed or on the beach. I like the green factor of using less paper waste. Will my unrequited love be rekindled by a Kindle, an iPad or the spiffy new Skiff? The jury is still out, but the writing may be on the touchpad…
I would love to hear your thoughts on this new virtual world of reading magazines online and please share your favorite online magazines in the comments below.