The Announcement About The LADIES’ HOME JOURNAL

May 5, 2014

The Meredith Publishing Company recently announced that they were stopping the publication of the LADIES’ HOME JOURNAL as a ten times per year national magazine.  However, they mentioned plans to bring it back for special issues to be sold on newsstands only.

In the 1960s, I worked for the Curtis Publishing Publishing Company in New York City.  At the time, I was working on the NY Advertising Sales Staff of THE SATURDAY EVENING POST.  There were over 20 sales people  in the NY Office alone for this magazine.  Just down the hall from where we were, was the sales staff for the LADIES’ HOME JOURNAL which also had a sizable advertising sales staff.  The LADIES’ HOME JOURNAL was founded by Louisa Knapp Curtis, the wife of the owner of the Curtis Publishing Company in the 1880s.

Television was now coming in strongly into America’s homes in the 1960s.  Magazines like LIFE, LOOK and THE SATURDAY EVENING POST were battling the new medium and each other for survival.  The business models of big magazines were set to lose money on circulation acquisition and expected to win the profits back on advertising.  Unfortunately, the expected advertising didn’t materialize and one by one the big 6.5 million to 7.5 million circulation publications each went out of business in the structures they were originally formatted at.  THE SATURDAY EVENING POST, which had a 6.5 million circulation – as a bi-weekly at the time – went out first.  It still exists today but it is now published 6 times per year – a bi-monthly – with a current paid circulation- according to the Alliance for Audited Media of 353,322 for the 6 month period ending 12/31/2013 – certainly, a much smaller circulation magazine than it originally was.

When I worked at Curtis in the 1960s, the LADIES’ HOME JOURNAL, as a monthly, had a paid circulation of over 6 million copies per month.  When its present owner, Meredith Publishing, announced it would not be published in its current structure, the magazine still had a sizable circulation of 3,225,863 paid copies according to its current Alliance for Audited Media Statement.

There are a plethora of reasons given for the end of the current run for the LADIES’ HOME JOURNAL, i.e., the internet and digital advertising, an aging audience for the concept, many more diversified titles for women competing for a diminishing pool for print advertising, etc.  One of the very basic reasons has to be that it was losing money on circulation acquisition and not gaining enough money on advertising to make a profit.  The average price per issue for a paid subscription was only 77 cents per copy according to its  Alliance for Audited Media current statement.  When it does come back for special issues, there will probably be a hard core group of readers who will be there to buy it at its newsstand price – but it will not enjoy the circulation size it once enjoyed if it means for its publisher to create this size in an unprofitable manner.  Perhaps, its original “brother” magazine, THE SATURDAY EVENING POST is a good example of this.  THE POST still exists but certainly not in the same massive structure it once was.

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