Monday, September 27, 2010


If you still read magazines, you've doubtless noticed the ads that essentially tell you print isn't dead just because the internet exists and the logic employed is convincing: real coffee didn't go extinct because of instant coffee etc. I am a supporter of print. Well, sort of.

The New York Times is something I may well never again subscribe to simply because the format of a newspaper has always been cumbersome. Since we are no longer a nation of hourlong breakfasts where mom and dad swap sections while sipping freshly squeezed orange juice, the idea of traveling with that behemoth that needs a Master's degree in origami to be utilized holds no appeal to me. Whereas the New York Times online allows me to cherry pick those things I'm interested in and ignore the rest. When they finally come up with a way to do micropayments, I don't think I'd be offended if I was asked to pay a nickel or dime per article I read.

But I subscribe to a frankly dizzying number of magazines. After all, when they tell you it's only a buck an issue, it's hard to say no to that. Currently on roster, I think, are the following:

Bon Appetit
Conde Nast Traveler
Food and Wine
Islands (this was an impulse purchase)
Martha Stewart Living
National Geographic
National Geographic Traveler

Now this is what the list will look like after non-renewing:

Food and Wine (75% chance)
Martha Stewart Living
National Geographic

Occasionally I have flirtations with Real Simple and Saveur, and while at the airport I enjoy picking up Afar, but since I now get so many magazines, I have come to the sad realization that they're all saying the same thing.

I am officially bored with: articles on food trucks, short ribs, Portuguese wine, Dubai, desserts made with cereal, hotels that cost more than 1K/night, "bargain" hotels that cost more than $300/night, recipes for green salads, how hot retro cocktails are, spiritual holidays, and how to cook things on a grill.

I would like to see more: excellent bed & breakfasts/small inns/tiny hotels under $150 (and I know they exist because we stay in them EVERY TIME WE TRAVEL), recipes involving game and how to cook it, suggestions for where to go next that aren't Jaipur, Croatia, Brazil, or Beijing, desserts that don't use enough sugar to turn you immediately diabetic, more technique and fewer 30-minute-meals, travel and kitchen tools that are a) practical (i.e. no Louis Vuitton steamer trunks or gold-plated chargers) and b) reasonably priced (ibid.).

But I know that I'm not going to get those things. So instead I'm going to pare down. Food and Wine is going to get another shot simply because once upon a time they had a Christmas issue that was hands-down the best collection of recipes I have ever seen (and quite probably my Christmas menu this year). National Geographic, while recently in a bit of a boring and/or preachy phase, generally bottoms out at a B+, and Martha Stewart because, well, it just combines so many elements of other lifestyle magazines in a terrifically entertaining way.

My favorite part of MSL is her calendar. Every month the magazine prints Martha's own to-do list and it is wonderful and aspirational. Not only do I wish I did that much horseback riding, but I wonder how one gets to the point where one plans on which day one will beat out comforters and lubricate door locks. I want to get to the point where I have a calendar like that.

So, magazines, when you wonder why you're losing readership, part of it is the internet - it might not have the same glossy appeal or ability to be read on the john, but it also isn't as full of 15-page advertisements for cruiselines designed to look like part of the magazine, and it doesn't have to be so repetitive. When I look back over the issues I have yet to throw out, I can't help but notice how the same they all are. Yes, tacos are in. So, too, is Paris (though I don't remember when Paris was out). There has to be someone on your staff who would welcome the opportunity to travel to and write about Gabon and someone who wants to debone a pheasant. These lifestyle magazines are about the people we WANT to be and know we aren't, so why not toss us a little more exoticism COUPLED WITH a little more we could actually do.

I like reading magazines. It's just I feel I've been reading the same one over and over again.

1 comment:

  1. Read this article on Portuguese Wine...