February 15, 2011

The bad news: Mothering Magazine will no longer print. The good news…

…it will, like many magazines (yours truly, all these others here) transition fully online, where they’re already strong.

This one hits home because Mothering’s been around forever. For generations.

Here’s the announcement:

Dear Mothering Fans,Thank you so much for your support of Mothering. We are announcing today that Mothering is becoming a web-only business. Printing Mothering Magazine is no longer financially sustainable. The Jan/Feb and Mar/Apr issues are our final issues, and are digital only. We apologize that we could not provide this informati…on sooner, but it only became apparent to us very recently.

Mothering Magazine, one of the great early mags, moves online—joining many others including yours truly, elephant magazine.

On the newsstand, a magazine is lucky to sell 3 out of 10 copies. The rest are tossed, recycled (and recycling magazines is incredibly energy-intensive). There is a place for mindful tree farms, but when it comes to paper for disposable purposes, it’s often best to go online where advertisers and readers await.

Read ed-in-chief Peggy’s letter here. It’s incredibly intelligent, knowledgable, worth reading. Excerpt:

…All along, the print magazine has been our mother ship. It has required a complex team of customer service representatives, designers, editors, and contributors, and until recently this all worked. But two perfect storms have come together to become the mother of all storms. First, since 2008, our community has moved increasingly to the Web. Forty-two percent of people now check Facebook before they check their e-mail. When we asked our subscribers why they did not renew, 35 percent said they are too busy to read. The second perfect storm is the decline of the industrial model of production. Printing is a complex and costly process that requires expensive equipment and specialized knowledge. The cost of printing one issue of Mothering is approximately $100,000. Even to produce a digital edition, the cost is approximately $60,000.

In 2009, magazine subscriptions saw their steepest decline in 40 years. The venerable magazines Gourmet and Reader’s Digest ceased publication. After three years of decline in advertising sales, subscription orders, and newsstand sales, with the March–April 2011 issue we saw our ad sales drop to their lowest point in 10 years. In a single year, from March 2010 to March 2011, we lost one-third of our print advertisers.

Many of our advertisers have been hard hit by the economy. Toy manufacturers have been burdened by the cost of complying with the new regulations of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA). Many of our sling and baby-carrier advertisers experienced declining sales or went out of business altogether in 2010 as a result of loss of sales due to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recalls of infant carriers.

Like all of us, our subscribers, too, have been tightening their belts. Nearly 50 percent of our readers are stay-at-home or work-at-home moms. According to a 2010 Gallup poll, “The recession and financial crisis have resulted in a significant change in the way many Americans feel about spending and saving. Six in 10 Americans (62%) now say they more enjoy saving than spending—while 35% say the reverse.” In addition, nearly six in 10 Americans (57 percent) say they are spending less money in recent months than they used to. Thirty-eight percent of all Americans say this reduced spending will be their new, normal spending pattern, while 19 percent say their cutbacks are temporary.

But even cutting our page count to 68 would not allow us to keep up with these declines in our subscriptions and advertising sales. If we were to continue to print the magazine, we would lose money on every issue.

…While this change is a crisis for those of us who love the print edition of Mothering, it is also an opportunity. It forces me to ask myself, “Am I in the magazine business or the information business?” If I am in the business of providing information and inspiration to parents, then does it ultimately really matter what forms that information and inspiration take? If I am serious about providing this information and inspiration, then is it not my responsibility to go where my community goes? Our online community is more than 15 times larger than our print or digital community. Mothering magazine currently has a bimonthly circulation of 100,000—but Mothering.com receives 1.5 million unique visitors a month, and is ranked by Quantcast as one of the top 2100 sites online. This means that while we are a niche print publication, we are a major Web presence.

We also have an unusually strong social-media community, with 35,000 Facebook fans and 75,000 followers on Twitter. It was inevitable that our young, hip community should move to the Web. New families breathe social media and online community, and they are pressed for time. While everyone loves the comfort of reading a magazine or book, most of us now spend the majority of our reading time online.

Recently, when my son and daughter-in-law wanted to know about when to start feeding their baby solid foods, they didn’t want to wait; they wanted to know immediately. The efficiency of the Web is essential to sleep-deprived new parents who need information fast.

Want to get involved and support Mothering online? Click here: lots of benefits.

They’re getting lots of hell in comments…

though they are offering sub to another magazine, Natural Life or something…go to their site for deets or write [email protected] or [email protected] or call 800-984-8116.

…Cristi’s comment sums up my response precisely:

i support mothering. Not a subscriber, but i do buy. I have no issues with them discontinuing the mazine, i wish i were a subscriber, i have no problems with a magazine ending (and helping save trees and recources), and being offere…d the chance at a new magazine. Just think about what people can learn from something new. Its incredibly close minded to not even try something new. I just think people are being lame about the whole situation. im an easy going person, stuff like this doesnt upset me easily. Its the end of a print magazine. Its not the end of the world, im sure you didnt spend the last penny you will ever have on your subscription. And like i said earlier, those who truly love mothering will support them through this hard time. We all have hard times, we all disappoint people. No one is perfect, and no one should expect a magazine to be either.

Read 1 Comment and Reply

Read 1 comment and reply

Top Contributors Latest

Elephant Journal  |  Contribution: 1,509,480