In a letter that accompanied its January issue, the publisher of Arkansas Life, a monthly lifestyle magazine, said the publication will cease if a “substantial number of paid subscribers aren’t found in the next two weeks.” The magazine’s subscription rate is $20 per year, and new subscribers have until January 15 to pay by credit card. Arkansas Life, which has been published since 2008, employs four who can apply for openings at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette if the magazine folds.
“Arkansas Life magazine will soon cease publication unless a substantial number of readers become paid subscribers,” said Walter Hussman, publisher of Arkansas Life and the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, in a letter that went out with the magazine’s January issue.
“The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette has published Arkansas Life since 2008 and distributed the magazine free of charge to most readers. We’ve depended primarily on advertising support to pay the bills. Unfortunately, that business model has proven unsustainable in the digital age. Arkansas Life has become the state’s premier monthly magazine but has accumulated significant losses over the past 10 years and continues to operate at a loss,” Hussman added.
“People throughout the state have told us how much they enjoy the quality of the writing and graphics in this award-winning monthly. So, in an effort to continue publication, we’re now asking appreciative readers to become paid subscribers at a rate of $20 a year. If most and enough of our readers respond to this appeal, the magazine will continue,” Hussman said.
In a January 3 blog post by the magazine’s editor Jordan P. Hickey, Hickey asks for readers to support the publication.
“We’re asking you to subscribe. And we’re not going to sugarcoat things: If we don’t get people to sign up for the magazine by January 15th – just shy of two weeks from now – then it’s going to go away,” Hickey said. “In short: Help us save this thing that makes our state great – that gives us good reason to be proud to call it home. Help us #SaveArkansasLife.”
In an interview with Arkansas Business, Hussman said, “If we can make it economically sustainable, we would continue it. In this case, I think readers should make the decision.”
According to the Arkansas Life subscription page, more than 600,000 people read the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette every month, but it did not provide circulation or readership numbers for the monthly magazine.
I am always saddened when I hear about the cessation of a publication, whether it is a newspaper, magazine or online publication. Each was started for a reason and has an audience who wants its content. In this case, Arkansas Life fills a lifestyle niche and has been provided for free to the majority of its current readers.
The fact that the publisher needs to plead for subscribers is disappointing, particularly if the publication has had significant losses over a sustained period of time. Why are readers only given two weeks to help make or break the magazine? If the business model was failing, why didn’t the publisher ask for subscription support sooner? Paying just $20 a year for a monthly magazine is a bargain, and true enthusiasts would probably have been happy to help support the magazine, but it may be too late.