Friday, February 06, 2009

Inspiration Disappearing

The Farmer and I are very different people. I think that's why we get along so well. Besides the sheep farming and all the other farming things he does, he has run his own small business (somewhat connected to the construction trade) for the past twenty years. Things have been rather tough over the past three years. The economic down-turn that everyone is seeing now isn't a surprise for our household. We've been experiencing it for some time.

So it wasn't a complete surprise to me when I heard about Domino Magazine closing (read here about it in the NY Times) with the March issue. I was never a complete fan of Domino like so many people were - but I subscribed to it because there is barely a shelter magazine I don't subscribe to. Like many shelter magazines, I thought that almost every issue looked the same -- pretty young thing on the cover standing amongst some furniture. (I think I was a little too old for the demographic they were targeting anyway....) The last few issues have been a little more colorful and different, I must say. That said, I will really miss spending an evening looking at it the day it arrived.

Domino is only one of the magazines that are disappearing in this economic downturn. First it was House and Garden last year, then just recently Country Home, O at Home, Home, Cottage Living, and Mary Englebreit's Home Companion. The publishers are blaming the advertisers which I completely understand. It doesn't matter how many subscribers they have, if the ad revenue isn't there, it's trouble. They say it is because of the housing market but I'm not so sure I agree. There were probably just too many magazines and advertisers can only spend so much money. And tell me, how do the editors get away with stuffing Pottery Barn and Anthropologie in every issue when they never, ever advertise? If I was an advertiser, that would turn me off. Part of advertising is pay-off with editorial. At least that's how I think of it.

The sad thing is, no matter what, good times or bad, women look for inspiration for keeping their homes. I think that in bad times, they look even harder for creative, inexpensive ideas to refresh their spaces - especially in the winter.
Living here in the country, I have to find my inspiration in pages of magazines. With dial-up, I barely look around the internet - if a site is image heavy, I don't bother because it takes too long to load. Losing these magazines, no matter how fickle it may sound, really does leave a bit of an empty spot in my mailbox.

I'm positive the internet and how it has changed how people get their news is another big reason publishing is changing. I think there are many more changes coming down the pike and it has me worried and concerned. Personally, I like to hold things in my hand - newspapers, magazines, books. I have don't like to be sitting at a screen all the time.

I really have to re-think things - about how I get the word out about my work out there. Our home was featured in Country Home in 2004 and it really did alot to increase my profile with book buyers (you can down-load that article here). Last September, our sunflower field was also featured in Country Home (see that here). I had an inkling that CH wasn't long for the world because I saw it changing and not in a good and creative way. I saw it becoming more corporate and losing lots of the spirit that former editors Carol Sheehan and Mary Emmerling put into it. But times change. It still makes me sad. I'm just hoping the rest of the magazines can hold on.

I always find it odd how men at publishing houses think they know what women want best. Please don't get me going.... If you read the masthead pages of many women's shelter magazines, it is mostly men pulling the strings. I think that is one reason Martha Stewart and her company has continued to succeed despite some infamous hiccups.

All that said, this post began as a thought of what The Farmer often says, "just show up." So I'm continuing to show up at the sheep barn and here are some new lamb photos for you to enjoy before you start the weekend. It was brutally, bone-chillingly cold this morning - so cold that my camera stopped working. I'm hoping it is the cold and not something else.

I like this photo with the two lambs in the front. In front of them is the feed bunker which The Farmer feeds grain in. Behind you can see a mama with a newborn in a pen built out of a thick wire hog panel. Behind them is the snow that is piled up along side the greenhouse barn.

I call these guys the "push me - pull you" lambs.

Here's one of the bottle lambs with a little drip of milk on the bridge of her nose. She is a real sweetie.

Oh, and back to yesterday's post about Disney... My friend Bob sent me this link.... Oh my goodness, it there anything they don't put their mark on to entice little children. Insanity!


Kathleen C. said...

Oh I didn't know about all those magazines! I really liked Country Home and Cottage Living. And House and Garden... that's a classic isn't it?
Too bad...

Lora said...

I was really upset about Mary Engelbreit Home Companion - it was one of my favorite magazines. My consolation is that she still actually owns it so someday it may reappear. I will miss Cottage Living, too...another favorite. And I didn't receive notice about Country Home - although I agree with you about the changes that had been made over the past couple years. It was actually getting to be hard for me to read and follow. But I'll still miss it. In the past few months my list of magazine subscriptions has been somewhat decimated!

Pungo River Days said...

I will miss them myself. Look at the bright side, I missed Victoria a lot while it was gone and it came back. Something will come back or replace it when things heal. try smiling.

Anonymous said...

I would love to know what shelter magazines are still inspiring you! Would you be able/willing to post that on the blog sometime for the rest of us who aren't so up on those types of magazines?

Dianne said...

Ouch! I had heard about Cottage Living, but not Country Home. I, too, buy and read a lot of shelter magazines.I also have been buying some British editions of home magazines, mainly because of their aesthetic and visual appeal. And I love Marie Claire Idees, though I cannot read French (I blogged about that back on Nov 14). I suppose it's possible to have too much of anything and all we can hope for is that the "economic down-turn" will up the quality of what is left.

Renna said...

I'm so sorry to hear of the failure of familiar magazines. :-(

I recently received an offer for Southern Living magazine (I live in Texas, so I enjoy it) at 83% off the cover price. It's a magazine I could never afford before. I did always love reading my mom's when she was through with them, so I jumped at the $10 price for 13 monthly issues subscription.

I haven't been subscribing to any magazines at all, as that's one of the first things to go when things get tight, and things have been tight for us for awhile, but I simply could not pass up that $10 offer. I hope they are still around through all 13 issues! :-o

I just want to pick up and cuddle those adorable baby lambs!

Turtle said...

Cute lamb pics! I admit to not having renewed all my subscriptions. A few i have kept other than the few craft mags i get, but then those were offered up to me with business deals (i have them at the spa) and i only pay about 78cents a magazine for those.

~ ~ Ahrisha ~ ~ said...

OK, got my fill of cute little lambs, Thanks Kristin. Gotta get over here every few days for my fix.

About the decorating magazines Love them too. No place else to go for great decorating ideas till I found out about decorating blogs. It's like knitting blogs only we share home decorating ideas and I must say I am hooked. There are so many creative people out there and I'm finding more blogs all the time.

I started a blog the beginning of December and I am having so much fun with it. It's a combo of the many things I love doing two of which are knitting and decorating. Stop by for a visit some time.

Anonymous said...

Got caught up today with your entries, and what a lot of wonderful pictures! Thank you for posting them as well as your interesting stories.

You said:
I always find it odd how men at publishing houses think they know what women want best. Please don't get me going.... If you read the masthead pages of many women's shelter magazines, it is mostly men pulling the strings. I think that is one reason Martha Stewart and her company has continued to succeed despite some infamous hiccups<

Very well put! I am sick and tired of men in business thinking they can predict a female market's responses, we know how well they can actually manage do that in real life! NOT.

Yes, Martha makes a fine living out of being a woman who get's women. And women reward her for that don't they with their loyalty and their money. You'd think she and Oprah would get more respect for their business acumen. It seems as tho' men always overlook it and feel as tho' it was some kind of accident or serendipitous event. I think I could hold forth for quite while on this subject, but I've said enough, me thinks. :) Have another wonderful week. - WendyE

Tammy said...

I absolutely agree with you on the "men publishing women's stuff" thoughts...don't get me started either. :) I'm sad to see CH and MECH go away. And I also love the farmer's thought, "just show up". It's what we do, every day, at the very least, isn't it. If I just show up in my studio at some point every day, no matter how dreary things feel otherwise, I always find a little something to be cheery about when I'm creating, even if it's just a doodle or two. Anyway, thanks for this was a warm and comfy place to find myself this evening, in spite of all the nonsense going on around us these days. Take care.

Melissa said...

Please don't stop showing up. I love love love the photos of the farm, the grounds, the sheep & lambs, the sunflowers, Julia the Farmer and most of all your knitting projects (what's on the needles these days btw?). :)

turtlewoman said...

Your husband is right - "just show up".

I had never B4 heard the term "shelter" mag. and it took me a while reading through your post
B4 I understood but now I do. With the increasing use of Internet I am not surprised at the loss of many paper mags. I had dropped almost all of my subscriptions - just do not have enough room to store them all and driving 30 miles to the nearest hospital and/or retirement community to donate became a problem as well. I have since subscribed to Orion online issue. I don't like it nearly as well as curling up in the evening with a new mag. and a hot cup of tea but I know I am helping to save trees and oil.

I worry about your little lambs freezing in such bitter cold but I suppose they are OK since sheep have been around longer than people (I think?).

Lindy in AZ

Anonymous said...

I do think that there were too many shelter mags around-- over the past few years I'd see new titles at the checkstand every time I bought groceries! I think publishers assumed it was a "can't lose" market and overloaded the bandwagon till it broke down. (I wish the same thing would happen with the celebrity mags.) The only demise I regret is House & Garden. At least I still have many keepers on my bookshelves. Like you, I tire of staring at a screen and much prefer the book or magazine in my hand.
-- Gretchen

Kate G. said...

Magazines do come and go, but I don't think the form will ever die. TV didn't kill off the movies and the movies didn't put an end to books.

It is distressing when a publication ceases. Real people with real hearts get every publication out the door and into reader's hands. Whether those folks are men or women or a combination of the the two, staffers often get their hearts broken at the end.

But then they go on and start something new. I've watched this scene for fifty years, Kristin. Chin up,
there's a renaissance ahead.

Nanci said...

Well Christine, I read the articles that you reminded us wherein you appeared. I feel humbled really, What an amazing story you tell each day that I visit and my little blog is nothing like yours. You inspire me to try to do the best I can. I visit each day, and see the work of "the farmer" and his flock. In Canada, we have Cottage Living and Canadian Living which are very successful and offer us every day life of our "shelter" mags.
I find that HGTV has just become a decorating network, all the same and no comparison for those of us who wish for simpler more inspiring programs. You should have a show....wonderful blog.

Gretchen said...

It is sad that these magazines are ending. I miss "Blueprint" too; it was published by Martha Stewart's company and was very fun and informative. Maybe existing magazines will include more "home" stuff. I do know that your blog always inspires me :) The lamb photos are adorable and always bring me a feeling of peace and joy(if that makes sense). Thank you and the Farmer and Julia for sharing.

Sarah said...

I'm so sad about MEHC, it really was my favorite. They showcased so many artists, and had such a creative view of everything. I have kept every issue. The others - well, I still subscribed to Country Home but it had changed enough that it wasn't a must read anymore. Cottage Living never really did it for me - their viewpoint was too superior.

Sugar Market said...

I too was upset about Domino but you just broke my heart with the news about Country Home and Cottage Living! Am I that dense that I didn't realize it wasn't showing up in my mailbox?

I'll blaim in on pregnant brain and I guess I'll have to fill my box with parenting magazines now that my first child is on the way in a few months. It won't be the same though :(

Anonymous said...

Regarding your statements: "And tell me, how do the editors get away with stuffing Pottery Barn and Anthropologie in every issue when they never, ever advertise? If I was an advertiser, that would turn me off. Part of advertising is pay-off with editorial."

You've got it backwards. If a magazine is run with integrity, the editorial and the advertising departments are completely separate, and GOOD editors base their choice of editorial content on what will interest their READERS, not on what might appeal to advertisers. Companies advertise in The New Yorker, for example, because of that magazine's reputation for editorial excellence over time, which guarantees advertisers that a large number of loyal subscribers and readers will see their ads.

Granted, the egregious corporate greed that began having a negative influence on publishing during the 1980s may have corrupted the editorial departments of many home-decor magazines, so I can see how you may have got the wrong idea. But the "ads-first" approach to magazine content creates publications with little or no real substance and consequently no reader loyalty. Magazines such as this are likely to founder during a recession because they were not built on a reader-oriented foundation and their publishers are in it only for the ad revenue.

b said...

Disney-stamped eggs???? I though you were kidding until I saw the link. Weird.