I’m heartbroken by the news that Gourmet is closing.
My Demographic Just Got FLUSHED
What makes me saddest is that the closing of Gourmet comes after months of research by consulting firm McKinsey which means that somehow there aren’t enough people like me to keep my favorite magazines alive (Blueprint, Gourmet). In fact, I’m sure that the bean-counters at Mckinsey even have a name for my demographic (design-aficionado-aesthetically-minded-blogger-with-a-graduate degree-who-loves-to-cook) and they knew I’d be upset about closing but that I won’t subscribe to other magazine. But, there were other demographics, who the McKinsey folks know will make the switch to other Conde Nast pubs (probably because those demographics don’t really cook so they don’t really care) and so my demographic JUST GOT FLUSHED. It really makes me feel lonely.
As someone (studying to be a design historian, btw) who spends a lot of time reading now defunct periodicals for my thesis, I guess I wish there was someway to keep the Gourmet brand alive — since I really felt that its brand promise “the magazine of the good life” was one that I aspired to. I always felt when I opened up Gourmet that I was getting closer to the life I *want* to lead. And I guess I feel that somehow my aspirations have been taken away from me by some soul-less nerd at McKinsey WHO DOESN’T EVEN COOK.
The Internet Is Ultimately Unsatisfying
Now that I’ve started this RANT, I should finish it: while I love blogs and read them, the aesthetics and sensibility are very different than print media. There is something satisfying about reading an article in the New Yorker that I’m sure you are not getting from reading this essay on this blog. I’ve been feeling recently that the internet and blogs are ultimately unsatisfying because as a reader you can never “finish” the internet the way you can finish a good book or a magazine. I miss that sense of satisfaction when you close the last page of a book or recycle a magazine.
I feel that the bloggers I read are my “peers” and I deeply respect their ideas and options. However, for the most part, the blogs I read are not written by experts. That is what I most enjoy about print media and most worry about losing — that these magazines are effectively the “adults” in the room, the experts in my life. I get a lot of reassurance out of reading the opinions of those that are older, wiser and more experienced than me. I loved that the recipes in Gourmet had been tested by many many people who really knew their way around a kitchen — I trusted that collective experience and let it guide me in my own kitchen. I guess I really feel like a trusted mentor has died and I fear losing the other “mentors” in my life — the New York Review of Books, The New Yorker, The Wall Street Journal, The Economist. These publications are like people to me, I trust them like I would trust a parent.
And Please, What About Reading on the Toilet?
While I agree that the nature of print publishing has to change, has already changed etc etc, as a consumer I still want to be able to read my favorite magazines on the toilet and in the bathtub (where I did most of my Gourmet reading), in bed at night, on the subway, in the middle of the deep forest where there is not internet. I want to be able to read something that I can drop in the tub, that doesn’t get hot in my hands or need charging. I’m beginning to suspect that I’m alone in these desires, or, at least, my demographic isn’t large enough or spend enough money on the right products to be worthy of attention.
No One Is Archiving The Internet
We all know that blogs and the internet are so ephemeral, for better and mostly for worse. I don’t think that someone is going to print images of my blog out in thirty years and hang them in her kitchen, as I did with Gourmet covers from the 1970s. I bet in 10 years many of our favorite blogs today won’t even still be hosted — at some point it is just going to be too much content to wrangle — the content won’t generate enough interest to pay for the cost of hosting it. There aren’t any libraries archiving blog content (I know the internet archive project is doing something, but, again, that is electronic). I don’t mind the ephemeral nature of the internet, because there has always been print to anchor history. At what point does the way history is recorded fundamentally change because of the internet? I’m being a bit hysterical, I know, but, I guess I have an inkling where this is going to end and I don’t like it.