Magazines and Indie Pubs

Aug 15, 2006

Family Circle magazine, at least in the UK, is going out of print this winter. One article I read puts the point I want to focus on in its title, “'Family Circle' closes as women lose taste for crochet and recipes.”

Despite recent attempts to update the monthly title, sales had suffered because it no longer catered for the tastes of the modern woman and it was no longer relevant to modern family life, its publishers admitted.

Having failed to innovate successfully, the publishers were faced with the choice of pumping in more cash or accepting that the readership, of which 93 per cent was female with an average age of 52, was in danger of dying out. The threat from the internet and the arrival of a clutch of new magazines with added celebrity content helped to make up their minds in pulling the plug.

Interesting. Family Circle, at least on my side of the pond, really doesn't appeal to me nor, I'm fairly comfortable assuming, to most of my crafty demographic. Of course, I'm younger than the average FC reader. But I do love me some Real Simple, and I'm younger than its target demographic, too (so I perceive, not knowing anything about their target audience). Anyway. The bit I find most notable is the publisher's acknowledgment of the internet as a threat to its publication's survival in the marketplace. That, to me, does signify a failure of the mag to innovate. There are two things glossies rely on to stay afloat: advertising and circulation. It looks like FC tanked in circulation. In my opinion, as an online indie publisher, glossies and web zines can not only coexist, but can complement each other without eating away at the other's circulation. The Internet will never take away the joy of flipping through a glossy. Unless the glossy seems outdated and stale compared to the content available elsewhere, including online.

Despite her sickeningly puritanical viewpoint (I've never read her pieces before, so I don't know if it's ironic, but I don't think it is), I love what Times writer India Knight recently wrote about the demise of FC:

The closure — the last issue will appear in December — would seem to confirm the notion that women’s much-vaunted post-feminist love of domesticity is a pose... Who has the time, let alone the inclination, to spend an evening knitting a tea cosy or reorganising their kitchen shelves? The answer to that question, perhaps surprisingly, is millions of women, and the evidence is to be found, as is so often the case, on the internet. There has recently been an explosion of interest in crafts, cookery and other previously rather dated-seeming “women’s interest” activities. The proof? There exist thousands of websites to fuel it. Far from being risibly old-fashioned or nostalgic, the idea of knitting a tea cosy has enormous appeal for a whole generation of young women, as well as older ones...

The reason [Family Circle] is closing down isn’t because there’s no demand for the material it provided — the demand is vast, and other places, the net chief among them, cater to it by providing similar but better content in an entirely modern, visually exciting way that is trendy and so self-confident that it even eschews putting an ironic, semi-apologetic twist on its offerings.

Don't we know it.

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On other fronts, in a stunning reenactment of a seemingly hereditary physical design flaw (thanks, mom!), I dislocated my right shoulder on Sunday going for a wicked back-hand save* in my first game of tennis in over a decade. No crocheting for me this week. I'm typing two-handed now only thanks to the handy way my laptop has of sitting on my lap, so my right elbow is supported comfortably. If you've emailed me and don't hear back for a couple of days, that's why. Or if you receive an email all in lowercase, it's 'cause I'm hen-picking with my left hand.

* This is a sarcastic lie. The backhand would only have been wicked had I had superhuman tennis power. Instead, my mere mortal self not only missed the shot, but also crumpled to the ground as I felt the ball pop out of and then back into its socket. Big thanks to JohnnyB and Saje, not only for not doting, but also for bringing yummy ice cream.

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Finally, I got my hands on a copy of Crochet Today. Woo hoo! :)

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Comments

maryse wrote
on Aug 15, 2006 1:41 PM

congratulations on your doll pattern. i bought crochet today and actually give it a thumbs up. several good ideas in there.

on Aug 15, 2006 2:45 PM

Thanks, yo. I give the mag a thumbs up, too. I'm curious to see how it will grow into itself over time.

jana wrote
on Aug 15, 2006 3:05 PM

yikes! hope your shoulder is ok!

Wendy wrote
on Aug 15, 2006 3:23 PM

I am sorry to hear about your shoulder. Tennis has always bothered my shoulders, but I still love playing when I do. I don't know if you have tried this, but be sure to prop up your shoulder at night when you sleep so that your arm doesn't flop down. Lay on your side so the bad shoulder is up. Prop enough pillows in front of you so that your shoulder is level to the rest of your body. It will seem funny, but trust me it helps immensly. Also, you can do stretching type exercises in the shower when your shoulder gets real warmed up. Walk your hand up the side of the wall of the shower. It will be hard at first, but every day you should be able to do a little more.

on Aug 15, 2006 3:56 PM

Thanks, Wendy. I'm no longer in any pain, and my mobility is quite good. I'll be taking it easy a while longer, and will slowly ease myself back into bearing weight and using my full range of motion.

Amie wrote
on Aug 16, 2006 7:26 AM

Sorry to hear about your arm! That's gotta hurt. Make sure you rest it so it gets better quicker.

Intereting tid bits on the demise of FC. It's timely that you bring this up because I went online yesterday wondering what ever happened to FC Easy Crochet. I was in their first issue and I never heard anything about the mag after that. Nor can I find a site that's selling any other issue except the first one (if indeed that was not the only one). I guess we can assume that if it wasn't already gone, it'll go too (?).

I have to admit though, I'm not heartbroken that it's fizzling out. It outdated itself in the very early 90's (IMO). They would have needed to overhaul the whole mag in order to save it.

on Aug 16, 2006 10:05 AM

Thanks, Amie!

I don't think FC was actually tied to FC Easy Crochet (or Knitting), just like Vogue Knitting isn't affiliated with Vogue. The demise of Easy Crochet, I think, was more a factor of several publishers shaking down than anything else.

I'm not heartbroken, either. Although I am pretty intrigued by the power of a major overhaul to keep an old title going. When I was 13, I was given a subscription to YM magazine, which at the time stood for "Young Miss." By the time the second issue arrived, however, the look and attitude had changed, and I later learned they'd decided to go the route of having the YM stand for "Young & Modern." As far as I know, they kept it that way for over ten years, but recently decided to go out of print, either for good, or to focus exclusively on web content, which is the way other teen magazines are going, as well (like Elle Girl). Looking at the YM website, though, it looks to be funneling interest toward Teen Vogue...

MBT wrote
on Aug 16, 2006 4:36 PM

In the US, the Family Circle titles were all purchased by Meredith Corporation when the original publisher (G&J? anyone remember?)sold off a big blob of titles. Family Circle Easy Crochet has two new issues scheduled, Fall/Winter which will be on the newsstands in late September, and Spring, which goes on sale in mid-January. The same group also puts out Better Homes and Gardens Simply Creative Crochet, which comes out in October.

The joys of researching the crochet articles I write...

on Aug 16, 2006 4:56 PM

Thanks for the deets, MBT!

crochetmeMom wrote
on Aug 20, 2006 9:30 AM

Inflicting such guilt on your own mother...where did you ever learn to do that? (Kidding!) Sorry about the shoulder. In the past few years I have realized that my shoulder only goes out when I am under a lot of stress, and that regular exercise has all but prevented recent episodes even during this past year of amazing stress.

As a woman of a certain age (55+) who was a charter-subscriber to Ms. Magazine and rejected even the notion of reading an issue of Family Circle while in a doctor's waiting room, I agree that it has been outdated in approach for ages. However, I agree that topics covered in it do interest me - such as recipes and patterns - and that I will research them online when specific info is needed. It would just never occur to me to buy that magazine.