Saturday, May 9, 2009

Saying goodbye to a friend because she changed

A few years ago, my friend Pinky mentioned a new magazine that she loved. Of course, I went straight out and bought it and loved it for many of the same reasons: gorgeous images, interesting articles and NO CELEBRITIES!!!!!

notebook:magazine has been a friend ever since - I even snapped up the back issues I didn't own when they were offered on I have the full set on a shelf in my bedroom, my go-to for boring Bed Days. They have motivated and inspired me and been eye-candy for my visual self.

Until some time last year, when they changed their image. Literally. Gone were the cover images of gorgeous flower arrangements, replaced with (ugh!) impossibly gorgeous models. The real life stories of extraordinary people not normally in the public eye were replaced with (groan) the opinions of television and print "personalities".

I wrote the the Editor, expressing my dismay and she replied. 

Thankyou for your feedback and I'm sorry you're so disappointed in the new
look. We really haven't gone down a celebrity road at all; we've really just
incorporated some well-known and well-respected authors and women to join
our discussion in Notebook: on subjects that I believe are close to all our
hearts and subjects that will change from month to month.

Real women are and will continue to be well represented in this magazine
because we truly believe we need to applaud the unsung heroes in our

On the subject of the cover I have to tell you this was a difficult decision
to make. We really needed to change the picture to represent better what was
in the magazine. So many women didn't even pick it up because they thought
it was just a gardening or craft magazine and therefore not relevant to

I hope you persist with the magazine and give it a read. There are so many
honest and engaging stories in this issue.

Again, thankyou for your email
Kind regards

Caroline Roessler

You can read about that in an earlier post. I decided our relationship was on notice and regretted recently renewing my subscription.

Over the following months, things did not improve. Myriad professional writers and editors, comedians and more gave their voice on that months topic, which was hashed and rehashed through the first section. Thank goodness for the fold out index tabs, which allowed me skip past all that (and endless advertising for skincare and make up - blah) and head straight for the food and other more interesting sections.

Then last month, they excitedly announced the end of the section tabs! ARGH!! I added that edition to the increasing pile of half-read back issues and started ignoring the invitations to renew my subscription. Yesterday, my last issue arrived and earned only  a quick flip-through. I knew we now had little in common (why is each new season's fashion style divided up into recommended wearing for each age group? Hello - we don't need to be told about lamb and mutton thanks - and who says there is a standard *40 something* body anyway? Rubbish!).

As our relationship began to falter, I began seeing someone else. Not serious to begin with, a chance meeting after hearing about her from friends-in-common in the US had me absolutely in love. As I tried to track down further issues, it became evident she was playing hard to get. In the end I was left with no alternative but to get the local newsagent to trace her for me and put in a standing order for her arrival.

Real Simple magazine is so much like a younger notebook:magazine that I suspect a heavy influence was had! All those lovely graphic design elements were there and no bloody people who get enough air time! She has bits I want to take out and keep, just like my former love and, like then, I can't bear to deface her doing so! The Real Simple web site is the cherry on the cake.

There is a lesson here for magazine publishers: in attempting to attract another audience, don't risk the one you already have. My readership, my recommendation and my money have all now moved off-shore. Sad for the Australian industry and not ideal for our own economy (although hopefully keeping some US jobs afloat.)

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