16 September 2009

where Magazines go to die


"A magazine is like a best friend.
One always keeps Learning from them &
One Loves them more with Age."

I am a magazine hoarder. It is something I admit with a certain sort of Pride-though when dusting across the bookshelves-I say that in hushed tones. It's hard to toss them, always has been.

What would I do without them?
I never thought I'd have to really answer that question. I will never go without, as my stash goes back more years than I will admit. I honestly find many back issues more inspiring than the current issues I see staring back at me on a bench in my sitting room. Why?

What will the landscape of the magazine be in say-ten years, twenty, thirty?
The future looks bleak...

from my prized possession of all the now defunct NEST magazine issues
One of THE Absolute BEST EVER Magazines of its kind
(it was too good for this cruel world)

Magazines are emotional. No one NEEDS a magazine, (No, You really don't), but there is something about the beautifully laid out articles, the gloss, the text and the photography that a blog page can not do." As one veteran editor once explained to me, the best magazines make you feel like tearing open the plastic wrap the second that they arrive in your mailbox and curling up on the couch with them, ignoring whatever plans you had for the evening." (quote from Gabriel Sherman's article The Magazine Isn't Dying) This couldn't be more true- however less and less do I find a magazine that lures me in this way. Why?

What does the our style and design blogging community bring to the table?
Can it fill the gaps that the loss of magazines such as HOUSE & GARDEN, DOMINO, SOUTHERN ACCENTS ? These my dears represent only a tiny bite from the apple. I miss them- but there are so many more defunct reads-check out the site- Magazine Death Pool- sadly, but aptly named, chronicling the magazines demise. It is Truly astounding.

Domino- for me was the substitute magazine sent to fulfill my subscription when HG passed on to the Conde Nast scrap heap.I was angry with Domino for inserting itself into my post box- when I didn't ask for it I was missed my House and Garden. It was like losing a dear old companion-cat and immediately dropping a crazy little kitten at my door. It was darling,but I just wasn't ready. Out of Magazine LOVE, I grew quite fond of Domino though- and then what happens? Domino- does just that- it folds.

So what is next for design Magazines & Blogs ?
With still standing favorites, Elle Decor, World of Interiors- I find myself heading to the middle or back of the issue to read the content. I will admit- I always "read" them that way. Later I will go through the entire magazine and read regular features and columns, quickly skipping over the ADs- and therein lies the conundrum. Advertisers drive the magazine-It's why we continue to get these rare birds in the post.The magazine world has been glutted for a few years now with offspring- Vogue> Teen Vogue> Men's Vogue> Vogue Living. (Personally I think Vogue had something with Vogue Living but-). Booming economy & business, More advertising. Economic decline-advertisers pull ADs from magazines that do not have viable subscriber numbers. According to a number of online sources- This is the key to a particular magazine's demise.

What I love seeing- is an unstyled, lived in home. I love reading interviews with actual quotes from designers. I recently remember a blog post about designer ELIZABETH MARTIN from Lana Burroughs at Topsy Turvy. The post was an interview elaborating on the Elle Decor cover story about Ali Wentworth's home. The house was also featured in The Washington Post too. For me, the story came to life with the designer's interview from Lana Burroughs. The Elle Decor and the Post story emphasized the owner- front and center as decorator, the Topsy Turvy story focused on the designer. Why the print stories focus attention on much of the work as Wentworth's - I do not kn0w, But that is certainly another story? This example for the most part is a beautiful blending of three sources about one home. The photographs from the Post and Elle did not overlap- the content was unique in them all. (I've linked these three stories in this text).
If magazine articles are what drive a blog's content- extending the story should be a prerequisite when deciding to post magazine photographs lifted from its pages. Light content loaded with images does little to elevate an original story taken from any magazine. I ALSO enjoy the NYSD posts about Designers- it is an interview format with unstyled photographs. The NYTimes- T MAGAZINE is one top notch publication in every way. The most some of the most original content, perspective and photography anywhere. The MOMENT blog dovetails with it seamlessly.

What next? Interestingly enough- as I thought about this post and sought comments from respected friends- few responded. Maybe it is the unanswerable question. It is new territory for everyone.
One of my friends in the business did say this:

"Quite honestly I enjoy blogging (reading them) as much actual magazines, however, I can't imagine blogs replacing magazines entirely. I find that blogs are easier to get through in short amounts of time and you get a much broader array of opinions/outlooks. The one thing that I do especially enjoy is being able to rip out magazine pages to add to my ever growing files." Alex

I agree Alex. I do find magazines exciting, let's face it -It is THE original. Certainly every blogger aspires to write for one of the magazine's left on the stands today- Don't they?

..in a SWIDE interview Blogger Liberty London Girl gave her take on Print v. Web

"Although I get most of my news online, & think most front of book pages have been made pretty much redundant by the web, I still prefer to look at fashion editorial in print. There’s something about the smell & the tactile quality of paper, the saturation of the colour and the size of the pages. I do think we will see dramatic changes in the print world in the next five years as advertising revenues decline and audiences become more sophisticated."

SO the Question to pose is
- "As the pool of magazines gets smaller and smaller, it will inevitably mean the interiors available to cover will become more competitively sought after. How many people who read style blogs would be willing to read about a full house online rather than in the pages of a magazine?"

Will the future of your favourite be ONLINE- ? or on your shelves labeled "Magazine Death Pool?"
What do you think?

Read More at the following sites:
Ad Age
Mr Magazine "New Launches"
Blog List from the MOMENT NYTIMES



  1. I love my design blogs and visit them often. However, nothing beats curling up in a comfy chair on a rainy afternoon with a favourite magazine. I still mourn House and Garden. How I loved the Christmas issue.

  2. Just a side note: some of the UK-based glossys including Hali and Selvedge offer both print and full online editions (not for free, with subscription). The online version allows readers to click directly from ad to product, hopefully yielding positive results for the advertiser. But the complete, well-researched articles and lavish professional photography are all still there to be savored.

    I'm anxious to see the development of Lonny, an online mag being launched this fall by former domino editor Michelle Adams. And of course, Elle Decor also offers both online and print options.

    Some editors I know make comparisons to radio and the advent of television. Right now, for magazines of any kind, the bottom line is ad revenue. Every time a 60-year old shop closes that's one less advertiser.

  3. In light of G&G's plea in this months issue, very timely...

    I detested paying $175 a piece for each Collectizione every season when I was in couture. Nevermind the designers expense reports for hundreds more in mags from under every Italian rock - oh, it drove me mad! The divisional budget became my purview the year style.com launched and I thanked the fashion gods!

    On the otherhand, I agree about curling up with one in the evening and air travel will never be the same for me without a huge pile of glossies but if it is more responsible for the planet I will suck it up.

    Brilliantly done, LA.

  4. Love blogs...but makes me expect more from magazines. Hated the last issue of Southern Accent's cheaper paper. We need a bridge between fast and intangible (blog) and the coffee table/design book. I once threw out all my magazines, then hunted the house like a junkie hoping I had over looked one. Have allowed myself to hoard since then. The House and Gardens from 10+ years ago are fabulous. Blogs can't take the place of a beautiful glossy idea and photo rich magazine. Trish

  5. I've always been obsessed with magazines -from my youngest hours till now. Magazines are always my #1 source of inspiration and Blogs will never replace that as much as I love them.
    For one thing, too many blogs rehash the same magazine articles like you mention - if you are going to mention something we've all seen say something new and fresh. Magazines are very careful to 'break' stories - you rarely see something twice.
    I also have to agree with you that my 2 favorite magazines are definitely elle decor and world of interiors. I would say I love Veranda as well but entirely for the lush photography as there is very little text in the features.

  6. Like Lazarus a full run of World of Interiors is on sale at Potterton Books - http://pottertonbookslondon.co.uk/ - near the Pimlico Road. They have avioded the skip, recycling and fire to tempt future back issue junkies!

  7. Design blogs need to be more about generating ideas than assembling scrapbooks. Don't show something unless it is relevant, new, fresh, thoughtful, deeper, and/or informational. You have all the web-room in the world to dig deeper. But more importantly, you have endless opportunities to create on-line magazines: full-fledged resources that bring style, high and low, to a world hungry for it. Perhaps now is the time for a group of bloggers to band together into an international style co-op and create an online shelter publication? Think about this. Aren't bloggers stronger in numbers than as individuals?

  8. I am addicted to design blogs. They have become part of my morning ritual. Although I am more of a lurker than a commentator, I find the comments invaluable. The blogs I read replace the conversations I can't have with my friends because they don't share my interests.

    As addicted as I am to the blogosphere I find the printed page is essential to my existence. Hundreds of magazines, thousands of books and my funky old file cabinets filled with 30 years of pages torn from magazines are essential fuel to feed my passion for design.

  9. I agree with all of the above. I particularly liked the comment by Style Court about the transition between old and new media. I have been addicted to mags since I was a mere Tween. My mother-in-law, a most kindred spirit, consoled me when my baby was almost three weeks overdue, by telling me that when I delivered there'd be a fresh new group of mags to read. She was right! I think we have hungry readers and hungry tellers of stories but we don't have the deep pockets. A sad conundrum. I particularly mourn what will happen to the photographers.

    1. How you just hit the nail on the head! I have enjoyed blogging! I only have ever (I think) published my very own pictures..(and been criticized for them!!!)

      I just wanted to tell my stories and illustrate them with my pictures! I have seen so many blogs.......just recirculating other's pictures (often through Pinterest)

      What is that? Having others do all the work for you? I do not get that at all!

      I think I will stop telling my "stories" on a blog. Not sure. thinking about it!

      I love your blog way more than many!


  10. Stylecourt- I will be anxious to see Lonny too-in fact didnt know a thing about it, thanks for sharing the news. I think the online subscription is viable and would be a pref. for some-From your post on Selvedge nothing could replace the visuals in the magazine. Your blog is wonderful and you are always in the know, and always sharing the info which is great. thanks,GT

  11. Blushing, I can imagine an overload, even personally-I have scaled subscriptions done. Of course I've had some help from the publishers and the economy. I hate to dismiss newspapers but-this info I could do online. I still get the Sunday Times(one of the few subscriptions delivered to this little town) I love the magazine and as mentioned the MOMENT is worth its weight... GT

  12. Trish- I have a great visual image of your plight! It is hard to toss and I just got the 2o years of Elle Decor with some of the covers- and I am thinking, Do I still have that one? Did I toss that? I think I have subscribed pretty much since inception- So I know I tossed many. BooHoo. GT

  13. Off the list- Very tempting. I am afraid my 2nd floor may come crashing down from back issues- but it would be nice to "fill In" GT

  14. AD, Glad we are in agreement- I think more thought and less getting it out there would benefit many blogs- I have to give myself the critical check and remember why I started blogging often. It would be great to have a "roundtable" about BLOGS and a real Code of Conduct (which I think Pigtown has touched on) Magazines are beautiful, Don't touch mine! Thank you for your wonderful blog it is truly a unique and original perspective. I have particularly enjoyed you Views of Paris! GT

  15. S Alder, How I thank you for commenting! I am in complete agreement about the comments- I love the thought a reader puts into the post and the subsequent give and take with readers and bloggers. I get updates on addl comments.I didnt comment either when reading until I started my blog and then I realized how much this is a part of the process. This You can not get with a magazine for sure & nothing is better than finding kindred spirits- On this the blog community is a gift for me! Please comment- your thoughts are dead on and welcome. GT

    1. Completely key! "kindred spirits"! I have met many! In the beginning!

  16. Anon. If you aren't writing a blog you should be. These are wonderful and provocative ideas. A co op would offer one place for the best of the best- Ideas, Blogs and Readers. I have found surprisingly- as with the comments by S Alder that there is a communion of certain readers and bloggers with their exchange of ideas and finding so much knowledge from other blogs has been more than I expected.The idea needs an experienced hand at the helm! I do think there are certainly bloggers I respect, have found their niche- I read every day religiously.GT

  17. Home- as always a thought provoking comment from you. It is the like minds coming together that is a gift from the blog world and your thoughts echo some of ANON's comments. I have found at times when so many mags were flowing in-I would just add it to a stack.A few mags I got through design associations gratis and many-too many subscriptions- I don't miss that many. HG I dearly do. Yes, to the photographers- I have a friend who has photographed in the South for over 20 years, specifically the dying landscape of Southern homes and plantations and he has had to pull almost all of his images to protect them. I understand, but of course, No one sees them then and it is another of many conundrums to unravel. GT

  18. Gaye - As much as I love them, blogs can never replace magazines, just like I don't want online news to replace newspapers. I think and hope there is room in this world for all of them – each offers something different. It's hard to know how the industry will shake out. I do agree there was a glut of design magazines and hopefully those that remain can improve their quality. Can someone please bring us the level of a House & Garden - the gorgeous photography, the content, and originality?? Or just bring back THE House & Garden. Some other magazines seem interchangeable, from one issue to the next. (But of course I still love all of them, subscribe to all of them and pore over every issue!) To hear the NY Times is also struggling - that's scary. What kind of world would it be, without the NY Times? I fear we are losing value in our lives - giving over to the quick reads and quick glances - and quality and depth seem lost to so many. Is capitalism ultimately the problem - whatever can be cheaply produced is all that survives? Or is it us, and our shortened attention spans? We can only hope for the best, and support the things we love most.
    – Lana

  19. Lana, I too am a magazine lover-as attested.But I do wonder about the younger generation (whew! that sounds OLD-) but as a 50 almost year old-I sense a different vibe from bloggers-30's >. However, I dont actually know what some of their content would be without magazines to play off of. And the Narcissism of some, nough said. Ultimately will "subscribers" indicate which Blogs are the best Or CONTENT & mass appeal.I think magazines will be looking to bloggers for answers too. Thank you for weighing in-GT

  20. Gaye, This is something I have been thinking about for a very long time and only recently feel like I have a handle on the issue.

    To cut to the chase, blogs will never replace magazines. That said, I believe magazines will become entirely online in the next several years, AND that, in the new format, they will integrate some of the best features of blogs - namely creating a community and exchange of ideas.

    I also think we're going to be seeing a lot more print media charging for access to online content. The problem is we've gotten used to getting a lot for free - but that is going to change and if the product is of high enough quality, we'll pay it.

    Now, on to why magazines which are so beloved like Domino are folding - first of all circulation numbers can be inflated. Apparently if you looked at that magazine's newstand sales, they were pretty lackluster. But the bottom line is that your reader base needs to correlate with your advertisers' market. It may seem enough that a sophisticated readership enjoys a sophisticated magazine, BUT if that readership's demographics show that they can't afford the products the advertisers are selling, then why would the advertisers advertise? Magazines are not not-for-profit organizations.

    The WofI - a magazine I actually "collect" - is a special case. It is operated on a shoestring - and, as someone who knows a lot more about all of this than me said, there's only space for one magazine like this. Meaning the readership who will pay $100 a year for this subscription can only support one of these - if it were split by another comparable magazine, neither one might survive.

    Back to blogs - I love the idea of bloggers banding together to form their own magazine. BUT unless thay have a trust fund, this collective would have to rake in a lot of advertising dough to make it work. And another point someone else already made, most bloggers don't have the resources and connections to come up with the quality of content that magazines do.

    And finally, one of the greatest things about blogging is that we are our own editor: as soon as it enters our brain, we can load it onto the page - which means there is a wonderful immediacy. BUT it also means there are no fact checkers and no vetting making blogs a better record of opinion than fact.

    Excellent topic for discussion - thanks, Gaye, for starting this roundtable!


  21. What do we think of the forthcoming Lonny magazine? From a Domino alumna ... http://www.lonnymag.com ...

  22. LA, really really great post. Lots of interesting comments too. Anon 9:12 has a good idea -- and I'm actually starting to see it happen. It is exciting to read other people's perspectives and ideas, but like Home said, what about the photographers? and I know so many talented and trained journalists and editors loosing their jobs from folding magazines and newspapers. I miss the writing. I fear we will lose that, standards will lower and the art of writing gone....

  23. I can't explain the magnetic pull and rush of blood that I get when I stop to examine the newest magazines that salute me with their glossy covers at a newstand, bookstore or check out line nor the thrill of the latest issue arriving in my mailbox.

    Blogs have become a welcome source and serve to unite a community of like minded individuals who appreciate design with a platform to share ideas, opinions, and resources that people didn't always share very freely. I have enjoyed having a front row seat to someone's thought process, their creativity of ideas, their interests, and the voice that begins to emerge from each blogger. At the same time, this is how we determine which ones resonate with us and which ones don't.

    But for me, you have to factor lifestyle into the equation as well. I spend so much time on my laptop and Crackberry for work that being able to spend time with a great magazine, newspaper or book is a sheer luxury in itself.

    Needless to say, I applaud my peers who blog and truly enjoy reading them when I can but I still cast my vote for the longevity of magazines. Long rein the tried and true ones that we still hold dear!

    p.s. Just heard that Country Living may shut their doors.

  24. As usual, my mind has been toying with these same ideas lately what your comments on "Vogue" covers, magazines going under and libraries burning in our self- made hell. I'm just amazed that people take technology so much for granted. It's great, but can it really be trusted? I'm glad to see so many agree that the paper support can't be replaced by the sceen as much as we are hooked on it! Your comments on "Domino" were a relief to me too, because from a distance, I admitt that I'd never understood its popularity.I'd also like to mention that the H&G cover is great. That's the most intelligent loking poodle I ever saw!

  25. EEE has a huge point: most blog writers do it for free. and even if co-ops are developed, for now, they don't pay. (second blog i do is part of a co-op) and i'm just going to be rude here and probably wish i could take the following comment back but... you spend so much time researching, honing and writing these things up in the wee hours of the morning after a long work day. you do it to share information, to be one small part of a larger whole, to get to know people in other locations with common interests, to learn something new each day, but when you're tired, your house is a mess and you lack balance in your life, you wonder why. there is no financial motivation (for me at least coupled with paying work affected by this recession). one thing i've realized is i find myself coming back to blogs b/c of comments people leave vs. online magazines - most lack commentary and all the flashing and moving ads are too much for my eye. i find myself becoming irritated and click the X to close.

  26. I am with you on the un-styled, lived-in homes! That is why I like World of Interiors so much. Oh, what would I do with out my monthly magazine fix? But, I am curious to see how the transition to digital media develops....

  27. Gaye! Can I come and stay and read all your old magazines?? Lovely post as ever. Rosie

  28. Rosie- you are welcome any time!gt

    Janet- you and me both-the unstyled and the future of the way we get our design fix in. gt

  29. Soodie- I started my blog to keep a wonderful friend's gift of so much design and life knowledge alive when he died last Dec. It has been an absolute surprise to meet so many fascinating readers and blog writers with the same loves and interests- that is an extraordinary gift-and it is the Salon of today. That is one reason the ANON comments are so intriguing. I think like minds- Think alike! As to photographers- I was talking to a writer this week about blogs and we both thought it was interesting how easy it is for a blogger to credit quotes, poems, etc- But the Photographer is many times omitted. I for one have tried to acknowledge them and have found the http://www.aphotoeditor.com/
    to have good guidelines for bloggers to follow. Thanks for joining this discussion. GT

  30. LSetlaM- I agree.There are so many sources to access- and easy to wiki-anything. But I prefer to trust my books.I am glad too- that someone else felt the same way about D. It is almost sacrilege in the blog world to disparage it- but it wasn't up to stuff.GT

    Maison- What a great thought about overload on a computer! It is a privilege to actually sit with a magazine or book and relax. GT

  31. Aesthete- So I am out of the loop again about Lonny(and just recently have I learned from Style Court discussion- the Lonny stands for London and NYC- I think it should appear LonNY-but I am sure it won't. I will subscribe- but already from its etymology I feel a bit skeptical-
    Does everything have to be reduced to a five letter catchy title to be desirable. HUM? I eagerly await being wrong about that.




  33. EEE- thank you for your comments. I think you are on point! I do wonder- if mags-design in particular all go online-with blogs included-What does the future hold for independent bloggers? That will make each blog require more NEW topics to lure their readers and as you say-their resources are limited. A lot of blogs get their content from the magazines- and people LOVE them and that is where many readers get all of THE MAG. they need. Will they subscribe to these onlines-or wait til a blogger gets the story out? A huge cycle and recycling of material goes on. One point that ANON. says that I am taking to heart is to generate ideas, not just scrapbook-that is a strong statement about blogs in general and I must agree. So we continue on- I would love to participate in a blog round table of the hardwood variety about topics like this in the future. GT

  34. A magazine is a secret obsession of mine, as a child, they were considered a luxury - and I would hide with stacks of National Geographic and Life and look at the photos and know that I would see the places in the photographs. I still have a collection - but the best were the hard bound collection at Calvin Klein - a designer paradise.

  35. Checked back in to see what people were "saying" and it proved most interesting! My fetish with photographers and credit came early when I was teaching high school journalism and the photographer for homecoming chose to play a gig with his band in another town without telling me. That's when I started carrying a camera everywhere for backup. Hard to get a do over with a HS homecoming, though! So grateful for all of the professional photogs who have helped me along the way. They are magic and they deserve the credit. So glad for your link. I think every photo should be credited and reference in every blog.

  36. I find that most design blogs only post images from shelter magazines...so maybe without as much material to cull from, design blogs will be forced to post more original content. That's why I don't follow many design blogs. I've already seen it in one of my many magazine subscriptions...which, sadly are now dwindling.

  37. Little Augury- I'm curious to know how you ended up feeling about Lonny? I, like you, was NOT a fan of Domino magazine, although so many people LOVED it, for reasons I cannot understand.

    World of Interiors is the ONLY shelter mag I buy consistently anymore. Other than that, I get Vogue Italia every month for their wonderful, fantastical shoots. Occasionally they have a "Casa" supplement, and although I can't read any of the articles, the photographs are gorgeous.

    I loved House & Garden, and then after they closed, I was moderately consoled by Vogue Living (I used to intern there, actually. They absorbed quite a bit of the staff from House & Garden, which might explain some things...)

    Great post.

  38. Lauren- I have not really perused LonNy (I cant say that name grabs me) I flipped through seeing it much like Domino-I did read and enjoy the photographs of Carolina Irving's feature. World of Interiors is my favourite, Did you ever see the mag called Nest-I think there may still be a web site up-but nothing happening-it was an amazing site to behold. It seems you have a great library of HG- I would love to hear some of your Vogue stories!Do share.G.



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