Jennifer Roland of Jen’s Writing Journey posted an interesting nugget on her blog yesterday: Glamour magazine is offering a special annual subscription rate of $1.50. That’s right. A buck-fifty. Crazy, huh? Pandora of MediaBistro’s Fishbowl/LA sums it up nicely with “Glamour Magazine Practically Gives it Away.” Yep. Jennifer went on to ask, “Will more magazines grab at subscribers with ridiculous rates?”
Good question. I know one thing, the Glamour deal sucked me in. I’ve always had a weakness for magazines. But I don’t even read Glamour anymore, unless I’m at in the waiting room at the doctor’s office or getting my hair cut. I loved it when I was in my twenties, but then Bonnie Fuller took over and sexed it up so much that it became almost indistinguishable from Cosmopolitan. (Not just the content, which seemed to have an All Racy, All the Time theme going, but the appearance too, with every fourth word underlined or italicized and lots of ALL CAPS and exclamation points!!! Yeah, no thanks.) I gradually stopped reading it very often and moved over to Marie Claire, Allure, and Real Simple. And I just didn’t make it back when Fuller left.
But like I said, I’ve always loved magazines. And we tend to be buried underneath them. I usually have a bushel of subscriptions because it’s cheaper to subscribe than to buy them at the newsstand. Right now, I subscribe to The New Yorker, Newsweek, The Atlantic Monthly, Real Simple, Southern Living and Marie Claire. And Self, I think. We get ESPN The Magazine and Baseball America (we dropped Sports Illustrated when Rick Reilly left). Oh yes, and the Oxford American, when they have enough money to put it out. I need to reup my subscriptions to Presbyterians Today and Parents and my son’s subscription to Babybug. I’m forgetting something, too. I’ll think of it later, I’m sure. In the past, I’ve also subscribed to The Economist, a literary journal called Tin House, Shape, Self, Health, Cooking Light, Allure, Harper’s Monthly, Cookie and WonderTime. And that roster does not even include the barrage of professional journals that David and I both get, plus all the alumni magazines we receive from our various alma maters. (Yes, that’s a lot of paper. Yes, we recycle them or pass them along to other readers.)
I admit that I dropped some subscriptions when I realized that issues were piling up and I just didn’t have the time to read them. I dropped others because I just needed to save some money, and I had to choose something to let go of. Others fell by the wayside not because of any dissatisfaction on my part…I just didn’t renew my subscription when it came due, and I gradually became accustomed to not receiving the magazines.
But recently, a few have attempted to lure me back with rock-bottom subscription rates. Newsweek offers professional courtesy rates from time to time. And Southern Living, which I dropped when I moved back to the Southeast from California, got me back with a $10 offer. I didn’t think it got much cheaper than that, until I saw the Glamour offer. And it worked. I’ll pay $1.50 for a year of Glamour, even if it’s mostly out of nostalgia. And I’ll pass along copies to anyone who wants them, so I can stretch that buck-fifty even further.
After that, we’ll just have to see.
I’m a little worried about the financial health of some of these magazines that are starting to offer these crazy-low subscription rates, even though I know that advertising brings in the vast majority of the funding for most big glossies. Subscribers are mostly statistics to be used to lure in more advertisers with deep pockets, not to fund the actual production of the magazine. I probably won’t fret over Glamour‘s future (although it once was a really great women’s magazine), but I might get a little anxious for my favorites. I know, I can read them online, but sometimes I just like to drape myself over the big overstuffed chair in my living room and read an actual magazine. And if the magazines can’t afford to keep going, I won’t even be able to read them online.
So I guess I’ll just hope that the advertisers continue to find enough money in their deep pockets to pay the important bills and keep things rolling. And in some cases, to maybe pay me to write for them. (A girl can dream, right?)