Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Judging a Magazine by its Cover: COUNTRY Living??

I'm breaking one of my own rules and going negative on you today.


I got my Country Living the other day...and I wanted to scream!

I mean,
does this cover do ANYTHING for you

Not for me.

Not in my opinion!

Now, I might be wrong, but since this is one of the last of the mainstream "Country" magazines left on the stand, you'd think they would try a little harder to win their target audience and to keep us, their (to this point) loyal readers and subscribers.

BUT LATELY, I'm wondering WHO is their target audience?

I thought it was me.

Someone who enjoys the COUNTRY and beautiful photography.
Someone who wants to and maybe even does LIVE in the COUNTRY.
Someone who enjoys looking at COUNTRY STYLE decorating magazines,
Who loves antiques, junking and COUNTRY STYLE makeovers using those finds.
Someone who loves COUNTRY STYLE gardening, cooking and canning.
Someone who enjoys seeing how others use antique items in practical ways in their COUNTRY STYLE home.

To be fair...
This photo on the features page does appeal to the country side of me.
This feature was actually done on a farmhouse. That was refreshing, and it had a few unique ideas for furnishings and remodeling. A few of the features did showcase some nice buys and furnishings that weren't from IKEA.

And this photo a few pages in was nice, it says summer, country, and farm living all over it!

But there was no follow through...they recommend a book; however they should have made canning your own jams and jellies actually look doable instead of recommending a book that costs $29.95.

What's wrong with the simple and inexpensive BALL BLUE BOOK that would cost under ten dollars....more practical for those that actually WOULD can and preserve. The economy we are in calls for realistic financial approaches, we COUNTRY leaning folks are practical and usually looking for ways to get things done in a cost-effective way; more so now than ever!

I don't know who edits these magazines, but I sure wish editors and staff would take a cue from the blogs that are out there, and pursue those wonderful resources in blogland for inspirational cover photographs, features, and articles.

Blogs are wonderful, although I have to say that NOT being a child of the technology generation, I still enjoy sitting in my rocker on the porch in the evening with a good magazine and a drink and "escaping". I still have room in my life for printed material.

I would like it if COUNTRY LIVING took into consideration the realistic side of those of us in "flyover country" and that they would understand that not many of us care one bit for $185 charm bracelets or about IKEA and that we have little to no appreciation for bright green, orange and yellow nooks in bungalows in Los Angeles.

I'm sorry....but that's how I feel.
And I won't be paying the subscription's going to expire on me.
It's just an expectation that is a continual disappointment.

How about YOU?


Dar said...

Oh dear, I just received my issue today, but have already been thinking of letting this subscription expire too, much for the same reasons. They have NOT been taking the frugal side of country living into consideration, and it is hurting them. Too bad, because, I have saved these as reference mags for years, and have started to give them away.
That's my gloomy story...and I thought it was just me. Thanks for sharing.

Donna said...

I gave up on them several years ago. The editors are stuck somewhere is an urban area and have no clue about country living, decorating, gardening, or values.

Farmgirl Cyn said...

With the economy the way it is, I have let all my subscriptions go and just borrow from the library. You're right tho...who the heck needs a $30 coffee table book to tell me how to make jam??? It's the Ball Blue Book for me!

Artful Gathering said...

I'm with you on this magazine. I decided a few months ago when my subscription ends I will not renew and I have had this magazine since it began... makes me sad but it is no longer "Country" enough for my tastes...
Hopefully they get the message!

Faith said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Faith said...


Take a look at the Magazine

Mary Jane's Farm....Very country,
a really beautiful magazine. There is a link on my blog to their website. I'm hooked.

Unknown said...

I did let my subscription 'go' as I was fed up with the lack of country.
Many other magazines I've left also.

Have a beautiful summers eve ~
TTFN ~ Hugs, Marydon

kathyinozarks said...

I agree with you, I let my subscription with them go a few years back for the same reasons.
Someone mentioned Mary Janes Farm-I love that magazine-and I read it cover to cover every issue I get. she does get a little too commercial for me-she is doing it for the money-but the articles are wonderful and I always learn something every issue

Mary @ Neat and Tidy said...

This same theme was written on another blog several months ago, and I say AMEN to hers and yours as well! I remember buying the first issue of Country Living in the 1980's and was absolutely thrilled. The only thing that excites me about the magazine now is something in the mail that isn't a bill. I'm with you - I won't be paying the subscription again.

Meadowbrook Cabin Primitives said...

Hi Joni,

My subscription went by the wayside two years ago when I noticed a big change of scenery within the magazine.

Since the eighties I had been a faithful subscriber and had kept all the issues and now they look like Woman's Day or Family Circle.

Sadly, Country Living is not worth buying anymore.

I have moved on to the new magazine, A Simple Life and am waiting for my first issue of A Primitive Place. Early American Life manages to keep my interest, too, as I love antiques and old or old style homes.


Parisienne Farmgirl said...

Oh this was too funny.

First of all, the cover looks like Pier One Imports or a World Market flyer.
Second, everyone needs to own the Ball book!

If I ever start a magazine I'll ask you to contribute! LOL!

Becky said...

I was Country Living fanatic for years and years....then about 5 years ago I noticed there were more ads than content and the articles were all about the homes of antique dealers, and I gave up. I need some ideas I can do on a shoestring (or less)! ;)

Unknown said...

You are right on target. I stopped getting their magazine a long time ago for just this reason.

Sunny said...

I agree, Joni! I quit subing to this magazine 3 yrs ago. I think what you may be looking for is "Countryside" by the Belangers. Give it a look up on the web. It's TRULY country!

Gina said...

I'm with you on this. I am also letting my subscription expire. So far, everyone this year has been too "modern". I go through them in a short time and then give them away.

Karen~The Barely There Primitive Bear said...

I had it for years and gave up several years ago. Once in awhile,
I will pick one up in an antique
mall...I think they lost their way,
or forgot their name!

Bear Hugs~Karen

Unknown said...

Wow, I have subscribed to CL for years. I've saved every issue and it is the one magazine that I enjoy the most. I guess I never looked at it from your perspective, but you are right. When I think about it, it has drifted away from what most would consider true Country Living. I think I'll go and check out Countryside as suggested by Sunny's comment.

PBKISSES said...
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Mac n' Janet said...

I agree, I'm very disappointed in this magazine.

seanymph said...

I read your blog and my first thought was Mary Janes Farm too. But I see some have beat me to it. I stumbled across it out here in only one grocery store and I never saw it before that. But I am going to subscribe to that one. Meanwhile, check out her website, theres alot of info on that too.

Buttonchief7 said...

Have kept every single issue of CL and haven't gleaned too much for the past ten years. They got way too European, expensive and featured faddish colors which will never be country to me. Am enjoying pics on blogs so much more than the current crop of mags.

Melinda said...

Oh goodness--after reading all the comments I just wonder what the editors a CL would think. Probably
"Oh well." Well Oh well isn't going to make the cut pretty soon.
I have had this magazine FOREVER as most have and in the past year or so I too haven't enjoyed it as much as I used to.
I went so far as to write a letter to the new then Editor regarding an
article entitled something about the items featured in the room being "affordable." Well, I had a little problem with their definition of "affordable."
Yes, there were some things that most of us on a budget could afford BUT there were alot of things way out of my price range!
Anyway--I got realy ticked when I didn't hear one stink'n word from that woman.
I've stuck it out but who knows for how mucch longer?????
Also, I miss the holiday aspects of the CL of the past.

I blabbered enough.

Have a good one!


PS popped over from Flat Creek Farm.

PBKISSES said...

Unfortunately, they are not the only magazine that has forgotten those of us who live in "fly over country" (or those who live there at heart). My new favorite is Bliss Victoria. The features and covers are gorgeous, while not strictly "victorian", but a mix of elegance, vintage country and retro chic. I look forward to opening it each month. In fact, my new issue sits beside me as I type, The cover is lovely-little red baskets of cherries sitting on red toile plates placed on a vintage tablecloth! Gorgeous! Check it out! In fact the pics were so pretty, I had to post a few on my blog!

Elise said...

I think with the coming on of a new editor and the passing away of Country Home, the magazine has gone downhill. They have no more competition per se, and definitely don't have a grasp of "budget" decorating. Auurrrggghhh...I was so disappointed with last October's CL, since all the good mags are gone, and I was craving a good Fall issue, and all we got was some gory Halloween. Not pleased at all!!!!

Mrs. Cherry Heart said...

I agree....
I think we should ALL write to the editor and express our disappointment in the new CL magazines!
Maybe they will see the light and get back the Country Living roots that they were born from!

Great Post Joni!

Hugz, Dolly

Paula-Pieces from the Past said...

I am glad I got to your posting. Those CL magazines no longer appeal to me. I have some of the older issues from the 1980's and some 1990's and they were so much better least to me. I still go back to my old issues for ideas and inspiration.

Now when I leaf through them at the store I see nothing in there that basically appeals to me!

Love you post :)


Patti said...


It is a little spendy however you can try looking up on line a magazine called Mary Jane's Farm. It might be something you might like.

Lisa said...

I agree with you! I stopped my subscription a year ago. CL no longer represents my kind of country. I liked Country Home better than CL and was sad when it went away. I enjoy reading British Country Living when I can find it at the bookstore. They only get a few copies and it goes fast.

Anonymous said...

Subscriber comments are very important to magazines. Everyone should express their comments to CL on their website.

morninglorycottage said...

Hi Joni,
Though I myself do not lean towards a country decor I still like it and find it charming. You might try Mary Jane's Farm. Just love that magazine though I do not by any stretch of the imagination live in the country anymore. So many magazines have been hit hard not only by the economy but also by the WWW. I've let several of my magazines go the last several years because I really wasn't sure who they were targeting but it sure wasn't me. Even my cottage magazines have started to take on this look. Maybe they think the younger generation starting to buy houses and decorate want this look. Who knows. But I love blogland where it allows me to connect with people of similar taste and thought, to see all that they are doing and to see their beautiful under $1 million houses. You would think that with all that is out there in blogs they would take a cue from them. Maybe someday they will. Thanks for sharing and I'm sorry that I took up so much space.

Mitzi said...

I too have subscribed to CL since the early 80's. Don't know why they feel they have to modernize and change what we all really like. Now we have to go deep into the magazine before we actually get any content.

Carmen at Old House Homestead said...

I let my subscription run out. You know it's bad when you can skim through a magazine in less time than it takes to sit and enjoy an iced tea. Totally not "country" enough for me. I do enjoy Country Sampler (sometimes a bit too primitive), Hobby Farm Home, Mary Jane's Farm, and TSC's Out There magazine. Oh and Country Woman, too.

peggy said...

When the format for Country Living changed several years back, I cancelled my subscription. I have stacks of the old magazines that have articles by James Cramer and Dean Johnson and others no longer with CL. I really don't understand the trend and I agree with you and others.

Anonymous said...

Try "Country Woman" magazine--you won't be disappointed.

mary your sis said...

I just have to say; WTFuzz? I agree. I let my subscription go over a year ago, I was so disgusted. Blogland PROOVES there are fresh country idea's out there, but all CL seems to pick up on is weird, sixties and seventies-vibe retro. If they're going to go retro, how about 30's, 40's and 50's retro; something we can enjoy reminiscing about. Many of lived through those years and aren't all that fond of that era. I like the newer Life: Beautiful magazine and will check out MaryJanes Farm mag, too. Like you, I enjoy browsing through a magazine on the porch, the beach, or an old spring issue in the middle of winter. This condescending, city-girl-or-gay-man-tells-country-folks-how-to-live stuff is really wearing thin. I think they should hire on some midwest or southern farm girls to do features. Some creative bloggers who have a clue about true country living and who don't live in New York City or Los Angeles. I've given up all but one magazine subscription, and my hubby works in the magazine industry. I know things are trending toward "online" magazines, but really: CL has the market all sewn up if they'd quit getting A.D.D. on who their target audience is and respect their subscribers enough to give them what they pay for. Maybe the title should read: HIP GAY COUNTRY LIVING IN THE BIG CITY! That would be more appropriate to the content. Joni, maybe you should send CL a link to this. If the editors or publishers saw this they might want to take notice. For every one person who complains, there are about 100 more who want to complain!

Vel said...

I agree. If they'd go "country" again, I'd be happy to renew my subscription. Country Living is dissapointing more often than inspirational.

Anonymous said...

I agree, the cover was sooo modern and not at all country. It's my fav magazine, but not enough county lately. A bit disappointed. I usually look up old issues online.
Love your blog. Check my latest adventure at

Connie said...

Couldn't have said it better myself! We have to pay more for it in Canada too and I haven't bought one in a long time because of all the ads and non country in it.

Kathie Truitt said...

Wow Joni. You've cracked open a hornets nest. 38 comments!
Sometimes I like CL and sometimes I don't. I miss the 'real' country articles as well.

I agree with the above poster. You need to check out Mary Jane's Garden. Excellent publication.

Kathie Truitt said...

FARM, I mean. Mary Jane's FARM.

Vickie said...

It's like they're pushing us to change our way of thinking or decorating. They're leaning into the IKEA or Pier One look that the younger generations are liking. Well, I've let me subscription run out, too. It started a few years ago, but then went downhill fast when they got a new editor. And Country Home is gone.

I tell you what, I've gotten more information, more decorating ideas, more recipes, more friendship and support from blogs than any magazine could ever give me. THANK YOU ALL!!!

Cheyenne said...

This is so interesting!

My MIL just got me a subscription for my birthday....and have to agree with everything ya'll have to say! I really like Country Woman magazine it isn't full of ads and it has GREAT's great!

Anonymous said...

My first visit to your wonderful blog and I couldn't agree more with this post! I'm tired of mag publishers and hgtv trying to shove "modern" on us - like we are so out of it if we enjoy cozy country style! They are missing a huge audience as evidenced here in the comments! I too enjoy a magazine on the porch; I just wish I could find one that didn't frustrate me after shelling out the money for one appealing page!! I miss Country Decorating mag and Country Home and am hoping Country Sampler stays around! Great Post! Sincerely, Jeannette

CountryLass said...

The editors and too many of the contributors live in the city during the week and commute to their "farm houses" on the weekend. How many of their readers have two houses or even jobs in the big cities? I believe that that is the heart of the issue...

I first bought Country Living when I lived in the dreaded subdivision of the early years of my husband and I dreamed of one day getting back to the kind of house "that built" us both in our own childhoods...Country Living fed the dream and allowed me to incorporate that thrown together feel in decorating that gave my children and their friends the sense that they could romp and play and be children among the furnishings and not break anything.

Today, articles like Country in the City still would ring true to some of their readers, but Ikea furniture? Aren't we the folks who take formerly loved and currently abandoned furniture and re-purpose it? Aren't we the ones who use canning jars to hold our fresh picked flowers?

Country Living has evolved into something that doesn't serve the readers sub ended four years ago...two years after finally realizing the dream of buying of an old farmhouse....

How sad.

Anonymous said...
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ctgardengirl said...

I know this is a very late comment, but I just saw the post today, and you are so right! I cancelled my subscription a year or two ago, I just couldn't take this 'modern' country stuff any longer. And all those ads! I finally dropped Good Housekeeping a couple of years ago too after like 20 years of subscribing - too many ads there too, and not enough decent content. I do like MJF, and Victoria, as others mentioned. This year, I have gone in a bit different direction - I now subscribe to Hobby Farms, Hobby Farms Home, and Mother Earth News. I still pick up the Thanksgiving and Christmas issues of CL, and save them every year though. :0)