Natural Life magazine, published by Toronto-based Life Media, is fulfilling the unused subscriptions of the3 U.S.-based Mothering magazine, which has closed. Subscribers are offered the choice of waiting for the May-June issue of Natural Life or getting a digital sub on a 2-for-1 basis.
Natural Life and its companion publications Life Learning Magazine and Natural Parenting Business magazine are owned by Wendy and Rolf Priesnitz.
Mothering was founded in 1976 (the same year as Natural Life) and in recent years had a print circulation upwards of 100,000 (not large by U.S. standards, but respectable.) Editor Peggy O'Mara gives an extended history of the magazine online. Part of the reasons for closing up shop were recession-driven or caused by changes in the advertising market.
After three years of decline in advertising sales, subscription orders, and newsstand sales, with the March–April 2011 issue we saw our ad sales drop to their lowest point in 10 years. In a single year, from March 2010 to March 2011, we lost one-third of our print advertisers.
Many of our advertisers have been hard hit by the economy. Toy manufacturers have been burdened by the cost of complying with the new regulations of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA). Many of our sling and baby-carrier advertisers experienced declining sales or went out of business altogether in 2010 as a result of loss of sales due to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recalls of infant carriers.
Even cutting back page counts couldn't prevent Mothering from losing money every issue, said O'Mara. So it has been decided to become a web-only company, continuing to be based in Santa Fe, New Mexico, concentrating on its 1.5 million unique visitors, 35,000 Facebook fans, 75,000 Twitter followers and subscribers to its many forums.
While this change is a crisis for those of us who love the print edition of Mothering, it is also an opportunity. It forces me to ask myself, “Am I in the magazine business or the information business?” If I am in the business of providing information and inspiration to parents, then does it ultimately really matter what forms that information and inspiration take? If I am serious about providing this information and inspiration, then is it not my responsibility to go where my community goes?