I just read on Deb Duesenberry's Curious Sofa retail blog that Country Home magazine from Meredith Corporation is the latest casualty in the shelter publications industry. Deb apparently received an email directly from Meredith, informing her that the magazine will cease production in the near future. Recently I also heard that Oprah's 'O at Home' magazine is no longer being published.
Just last month, Mary Engelbreit's Home Companion magazine announced that its publisher was not renewing their contract, and the November/December 2008 issue was the last one. A few years ago, Victoria magazine was shut down nearly overnight by Hearst Publishing. Victoria was revived in 2007 by Hoffman Publications (who also produce Tea Time and Paula Deen's magazines) and is now alive & well with tons of thrilled fans - hopefully, another publisher will step up to continue the excellence of MEHC and their mission of featuring artisans & shoppes in each issue. This one magazine did more for independent creative businesses than anything else I know of.
Country Home may not be so lucky. Though they have worked hard to stay abreast of trends and changes in the interior design industry, country-style decor is in a constant state of reinvention and varies widely across not just our nation but the world. As far as meeting the needs of a large demographic, they have a lot of competition out there - as did Oprah and many others - and that includes popular decorating blogs. If you can get your inspiration & information FREE on the Internet, why buy a magazine??? If you want to reduce your carbon footprint, reduce your use of paper - browse online and print out only what you need to.
If I had one suggestion for these now-defunct magazines, and others who worry that they'll follow suit, I'd say get busy fast to recreate a content-rich format of their websites, and keep them fresh each day - sort of a glorified/expanded blog theory. Sell ads & links, sell downloads, sell products - but keep those stories and ideas and inspiration coming to us via the Internet instead of the newsstand. Rethink what magazines are really offering us and focus on content instead of printing pages. Keep your staff employed because you can actually put more content on a website than you can in a 110 page printed publication.
Oh, and I'd also suggest that they stop selling magazine subscriptions on their websites when they decide to close down. It's disturbing and annoying to pay subscription fees, and then be informed that you will be receiving another magazine in its place.
OK, off my soapbox...