By Chuck Ross
One of the most famous magazines ever in America is stopping home subscriptions and will become a quarterly magazine whose hardcopy version will be available only on newsstands, according to Mike Lovell, director of investor relations for Meredith Corp., the magazine's publisher.
The magazine is Ladies' Home Journal, whose first issue was published 131 years ago on Feb. 16, 1883. Meredith has owned the publication since 1986.
The magazine is well-known as being one of the "seven sisters" group of women's service-oriented magazines.
News that the Ladies' Home Journal was making changes was first reported today, April 24, 2014, by Gawker.
Currently, Ladies' Home Journal comes out with 10 issues a year and has about 3.8 million subscribers, according to Lovell. The first quarterly issue of Ladies' Home Journal will hit newsstands this summer, Lovell said.
Lovell did not have a guesstimate about the number of copies of Ladies' Home Journal Meredith anticipates it will sell when its hardcopies becomes available only on newsstands.
Lovell does anticipate that current subscribers will be offered the chance to subscribe to one of Meredith's other magazines. Meredith owns 18 "magazine brands" according to its website, including Better Homes and Gardens and Family Circle, both of which are still available by subscription.
Art Slusark, Meredith's chief communications officer, told our sibling publication Advertising Age, " 'It's not a consumer issue, it's an advertising issue.' Ladies' Home Journal was 'more challenged than our other titles because it wasn't a category leader,' he added, noting that it also had a higher median age than some of [Meredith's] other magazines."
According to the Wikipedia entry for Ladies' Home Journal, "It was the first American magazine to reach 1 million subscribers, in 1903."
Wikipedia also notes: "At the turn of the 20th century, the magazine published the work of muckrakers and social reformers such as Jane Addams. In 1901 it published two articles highlighting the early architectural designs of Frank Lloyd Wright."
Wikipedia adds: "For decades, the Journal had the greatest circulation of this group, but it fell behind McCall's in 1961. In 1968, its circulation was 6.8 million compared to McCall's 8.5 million. That year, Curtis Publishing sold the Ladies' Home Journal, along with the magazine The American Home, to Downe Communications for $5.4 million in stock.
"Between 1969 and 1974 Downe was acquired by Charter Company, which sold the magazine to Family Media Inc., publishers of Health, in 1982 when the company decided to divest its publishing interests. In 1986, the Meredith Corporation acquired the magazine from Family Media for $96 million. By 1998, the Journal's circulation had dropped to 4.5 million."
On the left, a classic Ladies' Home Journal cover from April 1929. On the right is the current issue: