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Ladies' Home Journal goes newsstand-only

Apr 24, 4:57 PM EDT

Meredith Corp. is ending subscription service for "Ladies' Home Journal," one of the nation's oldest women's magazines, due to declining advertiser interest.

The magazine, launched in 1883, remains popular today with a circulation of 3.2 million, according to Meredith. But with a median reader age of 57, it faces tough competition for advertisers amid a sea of other women's magazines that appeal to a broader demographic. The magazine's advertising pages fell nearly 17 percent last year, while ad revenue dropped 14 percent to $152.3 million, according to Publishers Information Bureau data.

Meredith spokesman Art Slusark said Thursday said that the magazine's July edition will be its final issue sent to subscribers. After that, the magazine will go from publishing 10 times per year to a quarterly format, available only at newsstands. It will also have a website.

"It's an advertising issue, not a brand issue," Slusark said. "It's a strong brand. It has a good following."

The media landscape is constantly changing, but Thursday's announcement marks a major shift for a well-established brand.

"Ladies' Home Journal" is one of the original "seven sisters" of women's magazines, a coterie of publications that graced U.S. coffee tables for decades. All but one are still standing - "McCall's" ceased publication in 2002.

Meredith owns several of those sister titles: "Better Homes and Gardens" and "Family Circle." It acquired "Ladies' Home Journal" in 1986.

But they all face competition from newer magazines such as "Real Simple" that appeal more to younger readers, as well as titles like "More" that are specifically aimed at an older reader.

Competition is stiff for advertising. The Association of Magazine Media, an industry group, found that overall print advertising revenue increased 1 percent in 2013, while the number of ad pages fell 4 percent. This follows an 8 percent decline in ad pages and an advertising revenue loss of 3 percent in 2012.

Meredith said that 35 staff in New York will be laid off as a result of this move, but it may hire more staff for the revamped magazine at its Des Moines, Iowa headquarters. It has roughly 3,300 employees nationwide.

The company will try to shift subscribers and advertisers to one of its other women's magazines.

Meredith has 20 subscription magazines and produces 125 special-interest publications issues. It also owns or operates 14 television stations.

The company said Thursday that it took an $8.5 million charge for severance costs and a $9.3 million write-down for the value of "Ladies' Home Journal" in its most recent quarter.

Meredith made a similar move in 2009 when it shifted its "Country Homes" magazine from a subscription to a special-interest publication. The magazine, which Meredith says is profitable, appears quarterly at newsstands.

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georgettec28 April 25 2014 at 8:33 AM

Recently I had a diagnostic procedure that required me to remain in the lab for 8 hours. To pass the time away, I purchased several magazines including Ladies Home Journal. By the way, I'm 63 years old. I had hoped that the magazine would reflect my magazine memories of yesteryear with at least one short story or fictional piece. I had also hoped that the non-fiction articles would be of susbstance. Rather, it was total nonsense, fluff stuff like a hundred different ways to make chicken, beautiful skin, white teeth and yoga-like stories. Isn't there a magazine around that caters to women like me - mature, experienced people who care about more things than the youth-centered superficial? I just subscribed to Reader's Digest because I know that RD will present at least one story with meaning.

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Sonja Dunbar georgettec28 April 25 2014 at 9:40 AM

I agree! Some of these magazines of old need to GROW UP! They gear them to the young who don't even read magazines! What is there out there that are of interest to we older ladies?? AARP Magazine, that's IT! It's the same with Woman's Day, Family Circle, etc., etc. - magazines that I used to really enjoy. One magazine that I picked up in the doctor's office (my husband's appt.) was Red Book. That magazine appears to have grown up! That used to be one that was really geared to younger women, but found it quite enjoyable and lots of topics of interest to me - a bit too much about make-up, however.

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PAM HENRY April 25 2014 at 4:07 PM

I enjoy leafing through some of the original issues of LHJ, now reposing on a shelf in my antique cherrywood book case from an ancestral home in Virginia! I see ads for an "automatic" clothes washer with its advanced feature of a dog on a treadmill, for instance! Or glamorous ladies, bound in complimentary constriction of the latest in corsets. Or ads for Cream of Wheat, or Octagon Soap, among other names still familiar to today's consumer. For the modest cost of $2,000. 00 (more or less), one could buy a kit to build one's own house. Along with romantic fiction there was always a devotional commentary by a prominent Christian theologian of the day. Your got what you paid for!

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rflush212 April 25 2014 at 6:10 PM

I plan on contacting the Better Business Bureau. I will not be taking on anymore long term subscriptions. If they were to do the right thing, they would honor our subscriptions till the end and not issue any new ones. This is not right. They should offer us a refund

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sdowns1470 rflush212 April 25 2014 at 6:47 PM

I happened to stumble upon this article this morning and told my mom about it. Called the 1-800 number and had her talk to them because it is in her name. The check will be in her name, even though I paid for her subscriptions to Ladies Home Journal for the last several years. She is paid through the December/January issue two years from now and we will be getting our money back. Otherwise I would have told her to tell them to stick it where the sun don't shine.

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dallas5100 April 25 2014 at 6:23 PM

sooo do the folks get screwed again.. those that suscribed ..?? paid in full. will we get a dime back??

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Ollie April 25 2014 at 6:59 PM

Oh so sad to hear, I hope I get some kind of credit to get my magazine at the newsstands. I look forward to a refund of some kind, a.s.a.p. I really enjoy LHJ, good magazine to get taught with many interesting things. Changes like this sure are bad news.

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Jackie Lee April 25 2014 at 9:09 PM

I will really miss the magazine...

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ponyhoney April 26 2014 at 6:43 AM

So many magazines are going under and I think it's because there is nothing in them anymore. You're lucky if you get one article that is so meaty it continues elsewhere in the magazine. It takes me an hour to read most magazines from cover to cover nowadays, where it used to take a couple of weeks and then your new one was arriving. On top of that, the articles are fluff. It's like they're trying to play Switzerland and not offend anybody and so they give no real information and very little entertainment. Not a good way to compete with what's on the Internet. So people stop subscribing. And advertising rates continue to go up so they can make some money. Then the advertisers stop advertising because they are not getting any value. Same thing is happening with the newspapers. O Magazine is a pretty good product. I hope she doesn't start scaling back too. Rolling Stone is also good. Actually, now that I'm thinking about it, those are the last two subscriptions that I have. All the rest I've let lapse.

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Star April 26 2014 at 7:42 AM

As someone with a journalism degree, each printed format that dies is so sad for me. Young people get all their news from the Internet, which is very sad. AOL's number one article this morning was "Woman Kicked Out of Gym Class." And this on a day we have so much important news--Ukraine, South Korean ferry disaster, missing flight, etc. My mother always had a subscription to "Ladies Home Journal." RIP.

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georgettec28 Star April 26 2014 at 8:29 AM

I've always enjoyed reading and writing. Few young people today like (or even can) do either. Their writing skills haven't evolved beyond texting and AOL-type acronyms and they would much rather watch a video clip than read. I skip over more than half of AOL content because it's a video without even an option to read the story!

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jeanpoop georgettec28 April 26 2014 at 11:08 AM

I also skip over the videos, I'd so much rather read the story. I'm thinking that I probably haven't missed much by doing so.

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wkmtca April 26 2014 at 8:00 AM

instead of complaining here..go to the lhj website and ask them to continue in the 10 times per year form. quarterly, newstand only is just their way of killing it and hoping no one notices. also, write advertizers and ask them to support lhj.

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genki77 April 26 2014 at 11:24 AM

As part of the Baby Boomer age group I resent that there are very few magazines if any that address our style or interests. As a 61 year old woman... I do not feel that I am represented in the magazine industry. I feel that it is important to dress stylishly for my age not the age I would like to be. My generation is being left behind by advertisers. Someone should launch a magazine that embraces the accomplishments of women 60 and over. Many of us have fuller lives now than we did in our younger days. We have careers, families, hobbies, and are quite active. It's a shame it is not acknowledged.

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1 reply
lbz1947 genki77 April 26 2014 at 7:06 PM

Its not only magazines-its TV to that cater to the 18-49 crowd. Don't the CEO'S realize those people are texting away on their phones & not watching or reading

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