Women in America Less Interested in "Women's Interest" Magazines

When reports come out in America that major print magazines are on the decline, it’s no surprise to a country where news and entertainment gatherers increasingly turn to faster, flashier digital options.

Traditionally, "women’s interest magazines" (think fashion, beauty, home and garden, etc.) have held the lion’s share of U.S. print magazine revenues. According to a recent report by the Auditor Bureau of Circulation, mags like Redbook, which has been alive and kicking since 1903, have seen their circulation drop dramatically. Today, with a circulation of a little over 100,000, Redbook has lost 81% of its readers from 2001.

The other top losers in women’s interest mags include Good Housekeeping, which reported a major circulation drop of 67%, and Woman’s Day, with a loss in readership of 77.3%. Top fashion and beauty mags have also seen readers turning a blind eye, with publications like Allure and Glamour both losing roughly half of their audiences.

With women’s print magazines going the way of the dinosaurs for the past decade, it is particularly interesting to see circulation numbers diminishing in the “domestic” category. And when it comes to what publisher’s dub “women’s interest” print mags, it seems that women just aren’t that interested anymore.

Should print advertisers chalk it up to digital media trends, or are women ‘just not into them’ for a larger reason? Is the format of the magazine the driving force for its decline, or is it the content?

As far back as 2000, Salon culture critic Ann Marlowe declared that women’s magazines were dead:
“Today's women's magazines are 19th century in their insistence on the indoors as woman's sphere. The world of the women's magazines is an indoor world, one of trying on clothes, of shopping for makeup and applying it.

…Young readers don't realize that the content is driven not by some definitive vision of what a woman is, but only by outdated visions of what women will buy. The magazines themselves have become institutions, part of our culture's definition of femininity, but we forget that their version of womanhood is but a blip in the great screen of time.”
On the Internet, sites like Jezebel and Feministing seem to generate large readerships, with scores of progenies cropping up every day, suggesting that women haven’t lost interest in content specifically produced to cater to their gender. In fact, the Huffington Post just added a women’s section to its news website. And Jane Pratt, the original publisher of the cult ‘90s teen magazine, Sassy, later to publish the more mainstream, not-so-sassy Jane, has now come out with a web-based magazine , xoJane.

In 2007, AdAge found that women were increasingly turning towards more interactive forms of media; the number of women blogging at least once a week rose to 30% at the time of the study. More likely than not, these women are reading and reposting web-based content, not extracting the latest diet trend from Redbook, or reposting an interior design trend piece from Good Housekeeping.

What do you think? Do you like “women’s interest” magazines? If so, do you prefer online to print?