According to MediaFinder.com, 193 new magazines launched in the US during 2010, while 176 folded. Closures were down from 596 defunct magazines in 2009–most famously including Gourmet, whose November 2009 final issue with the huge stuffed glazed turkey is still sitting forlornly on our local library branch’s magazine stand a year later.
But from MediaFinder’s other trends, it seems the closure of this flagship food magazine has only spurred the launch of a (not literal, at least I hope not) thousand to take its place. While more B2B titles folded than launched, food magazines represent the most launches of any single category.
What does it mean? Are they just trying to fill the void, capture some of the market share that Gourmet commanded? Or do they really think there’s room for growth and that more and more people will pick up food magazines at the checkout counter and then subscribe for an ever more splintered and specialized set of food topics?
Are Americans really that obsessed with food, given that fewer cook regularly than even 10 years ago? Or are we using food as a relatively noncontroversial substitute topic for everything else of importance that scares us more? Like the fact that our banks got bailed out but they didn’t reinvest in America by creating more loans or more jobs (where’s the surprise)? That our biggest corporations are undercutting the political power of the citizenry and our Supreme Court is granting them effective status as citizens even though they don’t pay proportional taxes to support the welfare of the nation? Worse, that we’re still stuck wasting billions and billions on a moribund set of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and that our troops and national reserves have been turned into indentured servants unable to exit service when their agreed-upon term is over, and it’s been swept under a rug? And that we’re still “processing” and foot-dragging our way through the Guantanamo cases Bush’s administration left behind, with less and less plausibility for holding those prisoners without trial, and the “Patriot Act” is still in force–mostly for what? More abuses of citizen privacy have been committed under it than actual terrorist plots detected.
Maybe it’s time to get off our couches after all as we head into the new year.