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Is this magazine being rather economical, deceptive, smart or ... ???

Last month when I received my bi-monthly "Taste of Home" magazine in the mail an enclosed letter explained that as this issue was thicker than normal it would count as two magazines. I subscribe to nine magazines and have done so for years and this is the first I've heard of this. Some "Food and Wine" issues are far thicker than others, for example. ToH isn't exactly a favourite magazine of mine, either. I am patiently waiting for it to run out - someone kindly renewed it for me for four years! Not that it is a terrible magazine, it is just so darned basic! (Another topic.)

To those of you who receive this magazine what did you think of the letter? And to those who do not, what is your view? My initial reaction was surprise followed by slight disgust. I can see them trying to save money but what the heck? Not that it truly matters (especially since I don't exactly love the magazine, anyway) but it is those little things that can be annoying! ;-)

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  1. Some of the magazines that I purchase regularly have occasional double issues; notably The New Yorker, a weekly.

    Doesn't chap my buns particularly, their staff need some time off too. (I've never heard of Taste of Home, but I don't buy many magazines.)

    1 Reply
    1. re: SherBel

      Some of the magazines I get also have double issues- but the websites clearly state this. LIke Vegetarian Times- the website says how many issues per year are sent out and which months are combined.

      I'm surprised that Taste of Home would just combine two months to make one larger issue...

    2. Maybe I'm missing something but what exactly are you annoyed at? If they were trying to be deceptive, why would they have sent you a letter stating their intentions? It should be clear that it has to do with money. I work for a major magazine publisher, in a financial capacity, and let me say that producing a magazine is extremely expensive.

      It is in no way about giving staff time off...it is about money.

      2 Replies
      1. re: valerie

        I think I was annoyed by the wording of the letter. Too bad I didn't keep it! I did not realize other publications did the same thing.

        1. re: chefathome

          Yes, it is fairly common. I am a librarian and have spent a fair amount of time over the years checking in periodicals. It happens in mass-market magazines, trade magazines, small newsletters, etc and has for years (pre-recession too). Usually the double issue falls at the end of the year or in the summer, which does actually make me think it could have to do with staff time off at those times (though of course money is always a factor). I'm surprised that they included a letter -- maybe because they did not indicate at the beginning of the year that they would combine two issues, as most publications do.

      2. Also, magazines, like newspapers, are facing very tough financial times these days trying to compete with online content, etc. Don't be surprised in the future to see more magazines taking money-saving measures like this. I think within the next 5-10 years magazines and newspapers may be going the way of the dinosaur.

        1. I would be annoyed that it would be several months before the next issue.

          1. Don't feel bad, I received the Christmas issue on 12/24. I think the subscription is only $10 in the States so it doesn't particularly bother me. Yes the letter was a bit on the craven side.

            3 Replies
            1. re: buttertart

              Yes - subscriptions in the US are usually about twice as cheap, if not more, than here in Canada. I believe one can get Bon Appetit for $1 per issue in the US! Saveur is currently $19.95 US and it is $56.95 in Canada! Crazy. Perhaps I should have started a thread on that instead!

              1. re: chefathome

                Not sure if it applies to Canadian customers also.. but amazon.com usually has the best prices for magazines. Last year I got Food & Wine, Eating Well, and a few others for $5 each.

                1. re: chefathome

                  I know, I grew up in London, ON. Books are more expensive too. No fair!

              2. Sorry to have used the word "deceptive". That was unfair. I guess I was surprised at the wording of the letter that you folks did not have the ability to read it. I'm surprised I had not heard of this happening before! As I said, I subscribe to many food mags. If it were a favourite of mine I would have been disappointed because it would be that much longer until the next issue! Not a big deal at all - just mild surprise. :-D

                1. The Economist is the most profitable magazine in the world and is published 51 weeks per year. It does a beefy 2-week year end issue mid-December to allow a holiday pause, and I am pleasantly pacing my way through the issue. They send us goodies, too.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Veggo

                    I have a relationship with The Economist newspaper that I share with you, and I wish all a Happy New Year.

                    1. re: Veggo

                      Last year's Christmas issue was great, a fantastic article on languages in particular.

                  2. What most people, I suppose, don't understand when they talk about staff taking time off, is that magazines are produced far in advance. I'm not talking news magazines which are time sensitive (or even People!), but fashion and general interest magazines.

                    So when a magazine has a double issue (like July/August or December/January), those magazines are produced in May and October, respectively in order to make it to the newsstands on time. If it had to do with staff taking vacations in the summer or at year-end, it would be the September and March issues which were to be affected, and traditionally in fashion magazines, September and March are the biggest issues of the year.

                    It all goes back to money. Advertising dollars are light in the summer and year end issues since CONSUMERS are on vacation, not staff. And there are less people to around to buy the magazines on the newsstand (magazines make money on newsstand sales, not subscriptions). So it is more cost effective to combine issues.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: valerie

                      Having worked in the magazine industry for years, almost no magazine makes money on the newsstand copies, since sell-through rates range from 50% to 75% and the unsold copies are credited, plus they only receive about 45% of the cover price. All our titles have more net profit from subscriptions - but in any case, circulation net income is minimal, it's all about delivering readers to advertisers while trying to net enough to cover rising print and postage costs.

                      I think there's a huge difference between knowing at the time you buy a sub that some of the issues will be combined, versus the increasing number of publishers which decide to combine issues after you've paid and during the course of your sub term. This appears to be the case with Taste of Home magazine -- they have received a lot of blow-back and they are extending the subscriptions of those who complain by one issue.

                    2. I was more irritated that my 81 year-old mother renewed my gift subscription another year (wait...I didn't mean that the way you may think).

                      I saw it at her house around 10 years ago, looked through it and said it was nice and we talked about what looked or sounded good...oops! I enjoyed doing that WITH HER every once in a while. Now we just talk about why she gets hers two days before me (we live 20 miles apart and I work in the business mailing industry). I agree chefathome, it is basic, but there are some good ideas to customize to your taste. Did they do this in previous years; sorry I really don't remember? They're part of Reader's Digest so maybe it's just $$$.

                      1. My only question would be is whether it is true "double issue." I have a free subscription to Rachael Ray's magazine and noted that Dec was the Special 5th Anniversary Double Issue. However, when compared to the November magazine it was only about 6 pages larger.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Firegoat

                          It is definitely not a true double issue. There are definitely more recipes in it. I've subscribed to ToH for about 15 years. For many years it prided itself on having zero advertising (quite remarkable). For some reason, although it is very basic, I continued with it (partially because there was no advertising) and it was nice and homey. The renewal rates for Canada (surprisingly!) were also low. It is still actually a nice magazine, much different from the rest out there, but geared toward average home cooks. My tastes have changed quite drastically. I used to love food and cooking but now it is far beyond that - it is downright obsession (culinary school and so on). :) So now I find Fine Cooking, Saveur, etc. to be far more interesting.

                          Darn it - I wish I would have kept that darned letter!

                        2. I remembered I had the letter (had scribbled recipes for Christmas dinner on the back). The third paragraph says they are counting it as two issues, but if you don't agree with them, you can call or email them to have a credit on your subscription. Tel 800-947-3530 (probably US only), email customercare@tasteofhome.com. This seems to me to be as fair as they possibly could have been.