Friday, 6 January 2012

Vogue and I

I've mentioned a few times before about my magazine addiction.  In fact, I think I bought three magazines last year.  It will have been at the airport on our way to the States.  Long haul flights are so punishing, I give in to the bookstore to ameliorate the pain.  My selections were Good Housekeeping, Oprah and Woman and Home (it's official: I'm middle-aged).   I think I spent about £12-15 £11.25 (there's a reason to keep all those bits of paper after all and !yea! now I can pitch it!)  Magazines aren't cheap, at least not by my definition.  There was something of interest in each, but on the whole I was fairly disappointed.   There was more advert than substance.

I know magazines survive through their adverts, not the purchase price, but these days most of the articles are adverts as well as the adverts.  In my book, anything that names a product - with or without the price - is an advert.  I counted the pages in the three magazines and then the pages of what I considered to be more about selling than informing or entertaining.  The result was no surprise:

Woman & Home (£3.50):  94 / 210 pages, or 45% ads

Good Housekeeping (£3.50):  98 / 202 pages, or 49% ads

Oprah (£4.25):  176 / 284 pages, or 62% adverts

So, Oprah, though I quite like some of the content, comes out the worst on price and percentage of ...stuff (there is a reason why that woman is rich!).  Of course, someone else might look at these magazines and disagree with the pages that I categorized as being advertisements.  I suspect, however, that the industry is sufficiently clever that they got a few product placements in that I missed. 

This exercise was really helpful in helping me curb my magazine addiction, that and still owning a few dozen gross of glossy pages yet.  I have given over most of the Runners' World mags to Simon and Martin, Bill's son and son-in-law, both now interested in running.  Between about 10 years of RW mags and a shelf full of books on the topic, I think it's safe to say that Bill and I know most of the theory behind running.  He's just better at practicing it than I am.

So what has all this to do with Vogue, the magazine I am least likely to purchase at the news stand?  Well, I read it - and several others - in the library a couple of months ago, the October issue to be precise.  I feed my addiction at the library, at the hairdresser's and at various cafes I frequent.  What's more, I take notes, crazy as that sounds.  At the library I found I had no paper on which to write so I pulled out the camera and snapped photos of a few ads from Home and Antiques (see I'm not altogether anti-advertisement; I just don't want to pay for the privilege of seeing them); I also took pictures of a couple of articles from Vogue that mentioned personalities I wanted to look up. 

I've never heard of Diana Athill.  I've added her to my author list on Evernote.  There was an interview of Jane Birkin who made the endearing comment that the heels are all worn out of her cashmere socks.  Also, an article by Lisa Armstrong (I'm pretty sure I have a book around here she wrote) talking about the English woman's style.  I found this quite refreshing given that it seems that most of the blogs I read these days are Frankly, Fantastically, Franco-phile.  I give the French their due, but not to the exclusion of virtually every other country in the world.   Because of these three articles that I know I will enjoy re-reading and the fact that my photos are unsatisfactorily incomplete, I have purchased the October issue of Vogue off of - for £2.98. 

I'll get back to you on the percentage of adverts data...


Suburban Princess said...

I feel the same way about mags....I dont like to pay to be advertised to. I also feel the same about the trade shows the customers have to pay to get into. So annoying. I limit my magazines to Christmas and the occasional autumn ones.

I also feel the same way about blogs...I can't stand to see bloggers use their precious space to give free advertising to products and companies....then be all smug that they weren't compensated for it. At least magazines have the good sense to accept product in exchange for reviews!

Anonymous said...

I do buy Vogue, twice a year in March and again in September... Occasionally, I will purchase back issues at .50 at a local used book store.

Last year, on a plane trip, I purchased the September Vogue. Big mistake as it was heavy and slippery and smelly to boot.

Interesting to see the breakdown of content to advertisement.

Lacey R said...

Very interesting post Shelley, and very true. I bought the Sept. Vogue (the huge one) in the fall and I think I was at least 200 pages in before there was an actual article. The January issue with Meryl Streep, by contrast, was so thin!

I love Tatler magazine, I read Hello! Canada (usually whenever they feature Duchess Catherine) and sometimes fashion mags, but I am trying to curb my addiction too. Too much clutter!

mette said...

I´m not sure, if I have commented on your blog before, but I am with you and the ones, who already left their comments.
I never was so terribly keen on fashion magazines, but I have bought interior magazines in plurals.
However, I don´t buy them anymore. I might buy a book on the subject, if I wish, which is not often.
As I see it, the ads on both types of magazines are " stories " too. Looking closely at an advertisement, I don´t see it differ much from the editorial stuff.
These magazines are to be considered as look-books, and if you want a look-book, you buy it ( or view it in a cafe, etc. )
What really is bugging me in so many blogs, is the thing you mentioned - the French " twist ".
Maybe I understood your writing in a way you did not write it. But anyways, what is it with this French biz, that makes it so desired?
If I ever had any dreams of that land, the blogland surely has changed my attitude.
Sorry for bursting this all out.

Shelley said...

Hello, Metscan! I've visited your blog a number of times through common acquaintances and am pleased you dropped by here. You read my comment about All Things French are Fabulous just right. It's a great place, but not the only place. I hope to do a post about this in more detail at some point. Hope you'll visit again sometime!