I Can’t Believe We Haven’t Talked About This

Now typically I don’t like to court controversy on my blog. I try not to push buttons. I like to keep it happy, light, upbeat – lo, even devil-may-care-ish – around here.

But every once in awhile, we have to tackle some tough topics. There’s just no avoiding it.

Which is why I need to confess something to you.

[sighing deeply]

A few months ago, after seeing the redesign of Southern Living magazine – a redesign that can only be described as displeasing and disconcerting and UNNECESSARY – I decided that I would not renew my subscription.

[sighing deeply]

Yes. Yes I did. Y’all may need to gather around me for a season of prayer.

And while I certainly realize that deciding not to renew a subscription because I no longer care for the look and feel of a magazine pretty much smacks of pure, unadulterated crazy, I just need to emphasize that THEY CHANGED THEIR PAPER AND THEIR BINDING, Y’ALL.*

Also: I LOVED THEIR PAPER AND THEIR BINDING.

In fact, I considered the old Southern Living as part of my heritage as a Southern girl. Those glossy covers looked great on my coffee table; the old pages were oh-so-durable if you needed to tear out a recipe or a decorating idea.

But then? SL WENT AND RURNT IT ALL. I’m telling you: that new thin paper – coupled with the new fonts and new layout for recipes – basically makes me want to claw all the skin off of my body with some very dull metal talons.

And so, when I realized that the changes were permanent, when I realized that my favorite magazine of all time was essentially something that looked like Generic Periodical Product (seriously. go to a bookstore. look at the magazine display. see if SL stands out from the crowd anymore.), I decided not to renew.

I mean, sometimes a girl just has to take a stand on principle.

(You might say that I had a somewhat strong reaction to the Southern Living redesign.)

(Clearly I am quite the social activist. Next thing you know I’ll be leading some sort of protest at the SL headquarters.)

And please don’t try to tell me that the new design is more environmentally-friendly. That’s just not possible – because quite frankly I don’t know a Southern woman in her right mind who has EVER thrown away an issue of the old Southern Living. In fact, I could go to Martha’s house right this second and find the July 1980 issue, and then Martha would tell me how she tried that blueberry cobbler recipe but not that tomato tart recipe, because after all there was a recipe in the November 1977 issue for a different tomato tart that is FABULOUS, JUST FABULOUS.

So all that to say: landfills are overflowing with many things, but old issues of Southern Living are not among them.

A few days ago I was at a little news stand in the airport, looking for something to read on a flight, and in a fit of forgiveness and mercy I decided to give Southern Living another chance. I shelled out the five dollars and some-odd cents for a copy of the September issue, and after reading it from cover to cover, I kept coming back to a single, sustaining thought: Well, that settles it. I totally stand by my initial reaction. Bring out the dull metal talons. Again.

I just don’t like it, y’all. It used to be such a treat to get the latest issue in the mail, but now Southern Living feels like something I might flip through in a doctor’s waiting room if I was hard-pressed for reading material.

And this saddens me. In ways you cannot even imagine.

Now I realize that in the grand scheme of things this is no big deal. I realize that my SL disappointment errs waaaaaay on the side of trivial. But nonetheless, I’m curious: since a lot of the readers here are Southern, I’d love to know what YOU think about Southern Living in its present state.

New and improved? Or not?

(By the way, if you haven’t even noticed that SL has been redesigned, this discussion may be a little too OCD for you.)

(A thousand apologies.)

(Thank you for being so patient with my crazy.)

(Now do have a lovely day.)

* – Edited to add: I stand corrected about the paper. Oh yes I do. It feels flimsier because the new pages are wider. But the paper is the same.

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Comments

  1. Unless, of course, you consider your mother-in-law’s magazine rack a landfill in and of itself.

    I’m just saying…

  2. Love your blog. I’m with you on the Southern Living Magazine. I cancelled my subscription last month!

  3. Oh. My. Gosh.!!!!! I am SO glad you are talking about this–really, addressing the important things in life. I am a (shhhh) Northern girl who wants to be a Southern girl, and I used to subscribe to SL–for about 15 years. And, yes, I have every issue. We don’t throw away these works of art. BUT . . . about a year ago I had HAD it with the redesign, so I let my subscription lapse. The articles are just so short now, and barely any recipes. What’s with that? Recently, in a moment of near-weakness, I thought about trying SL again. I am SO glad you have spared me from the sure disappointment I would have felt every time that magazine came in the mail.

    Now I’m getting Midwest Living (duh! I live here!). It’s not as good as the OLD SL, but it’s o.k.

  4. I don’t subscribe to SL although I’ve wanted to for a long time. I grew up reading it, and my childhood home was almost in it.
    Just a thought…did they make the changes to cut costs since so many people these days are doing their reading online?

  5. I too decided not to renew my subscription! I’m so encouraged that there REALLY IS someone else out there who thinks like I do!

  6. It is truly unforgiveable the way they destroyed a southern icon. Who didn’t wait with baited breath each month for the new SL to come. I agree. Major disappointment.

  7. What rock have I been under??? I had no idea SL was redesigned!! I agree SL is a part of my Southern heritage…what is a southern girl to do???

  8. Nobody in their right mind throws away a Southern Living!!

    I’m not subscribing any more either. I think the changes make it seem like any other check-out-line magazine. Not special. I’m getting Coastal Living now instead.

  9. A girl has got to stand on her principles.

  10. Wow – I get you completely! I am not quick to embrace change if I don’t like it…now, if they would have done something that I really loved – I would have been 100% on board with the change.

    Also – a wonderful friend of mine calls it “CDO” instead of “OCD” because an obsessive person would put the letters in alphabetic order. HA!

  11. Oh yes, the redesign is awful! I loved nothing more than my issues of SL, but they’ve completely changed it now. It looks just like all the other ones. And please, does every house on the planet have a 6 burner stove? According to SL, they do!

    Cottage Living is my choice these days.

  12. I admit it, I renewed my subscription. However, I now treat each copy just like my Better Homes & Gardens…thumbing through, tearing out pages that I want to keep and throwing the rest in the trash.

  13. I agree 100%. I order gift subscriptions at Christmas and even the recipients have complained. Needless to say this year I will find something else. I thought the lack of content was just me. Not to mention the fact that half the time the new magazine is wrinkled or torn. You can only flip thru it once before it starts loosing it’s pages.

  14. I hadn’t noticed the downgrade of SL – but you are correct that one doesn’t throw the old copies away. I currently have many treasured SL’s on my bookshelves. Just another sign of the end times – I’m sure of it girl – next thing you know – they’ll be getting rid of deep fried foods at the state fair!

  15. Oh my gosh! I didn’t renew my subscription because of this! What in the WORLD were they THINKing?!!

  16. Oh, my, I am so glad you brought up this issue (no pun intended?)! I agree that Southern Living is a part of any Southern belle’s heritage. In fact, a SL subscription is my and my sister’s standing Christmas present from our grandmother. I even have several of the Annual Recipes Cookbooks and the Christmas with Southern Living books.

    I was laughing when you said that it could not be more environmentally friendly because everyone hoards their issues! I sure do!

    I was so disappointed with the recent changes. It does make it seem like just any other magazine! I always liked the way the magazine was put together without that rectangular spine; it made it seem like our magazine was Southern and Special! I haven’t yet rescinded my request for my annual gift subscription, but it isn’t nearly as much fun to get each month.

  17. Btw, my sister saves her Southern Living issues at least three years back. When she puts her magazines out, she puts them out by month. I am willing to bet that on her coffee table right now are September 2008, September 2007, and September 2006!

  18. This is bad news indeed. I love SL magazine! Guess I’ll have to see what you’re talking about…I don’t have a current subscription.
    Diane

  19. When the first redesigned Southern Living came……thought I was gonna die from crying so hard. It’s busy. It makes me feel like I need to rush through it. The pages are flimsy; not substantial at all. Bleh.

    The OLD Southern Living, the TRUE Southern Living, had an elegance about it. It invited you to flip through it leisurely while relaxing in your favorite chair. When you finished reading it, often more than once, you put it on your coffee table until the next issue arrived. Every Southern girl knows to do it. Walk into any of your friends’ houses and you’d see a copy. Now? Not so much.

    I don’t think you’ll stir up much controversy, Boo Mama! In the case of Southern Living, OLDER is BETTER.

  20. Oh, I thought it was just my mama and me that didn’t like the changes. We hate the new SL, and wish they would just put. it. back. already!

    My MIL gives me my subscription for Christmas every year, but I think I am going to ask her to switch it to Paula Deen this year. I need some Southerness in my home, and SL just isn’t doing it for me any more.

  21. So, you think cancelling your subscription was drastic? How about this…

    I have been a SL at Home rep for the past four years. I did not renew my contract. Yep…that’s right.

    No more magazine subscription.
    No more SL at Home.

    Oh, and by the way – I just picked up one of the new SL mags in my right hand and a BH&G mag in the other. CANNOT tell the difference.

    Seriously, people. What is the world coming to?!

  22. Well, here’s a Yankee chiming in.

    My mother purchased SL subscriptions for me and my SIL last Christmas (they both live in St. Augustine), and since I went to college in the south, I enjoyed my subscription (even though it wasn’t very, ahem, practical for me to hone my crepe myrtle-growing skills up here in Ohio).

    I hesitated telling her, thanks, but no thanks this year and (hint, hint, Mom, why not replace it with a subscription to Real Simple instead), because I’m just sappy enough to delight in “sharing” SL day with my too-far-away mother/sis.

    But.

    When the redesign came out, and I realized I quickly thumbed through the issues and then promptly tossed them in the “take to the work lunch room” pile, I caved.

    I, too, BooMama, will no longer be getting SL after November. I support you in your impossible decision, and will pray your mailbox will be blessed by a more worthy publication, posthaste. ;)

  23. I have always loved SL….Until they changed the layout. I was about 3 months into my new subscription when I got the ‘new’ one in the mail. I won’t be renewing. Not only has the layout changed, but I feel the content is lacking as well. It’s not as good as it used to be.

  24. Sophie~

    I am so with you on the whole SL, dare I say, “debacle”? I noticed the change immediately with the binding and the dullness of the covers on this new paper (I guess my degree in magazine journalism finally paid off, hee, hee!)

    No renewal from this transplanted gal either. I love the south, and I loved my SL, but no more. So sad!

    I’m off to flip through my fall issues from years past. They’re stored away, of course.

  25. HATE IT! I did the TOTALLY un-Southern thing about a little over a year ago…I quit subscribing. As household expenses increased, I thought I would sacrifice. Well, they sent me one of those “come back” notices for a substantial cost reduction, and I did. But when I got my first issue, I thought, “What is this? Maybe it’s just for the summer months.” But NO…the next several issues arrived and it was still second rate. Don’t know that I’ll renew again. I may go the Paula Deen route like Missy!

  26. hi…i am a lurker on a daily basis. i, too, can’t stand the new layout of SL…i haven’t had the courage to cancel yet, but i may just do so. it’s just not the same…..

  27. I’m with you! Don’t like it at all! I had stopped my subscription awhile back when it didn’t seem to have as many recipes as they used to. But now, I wouldn’t even buy it off the rack! And I am so laughing at the “no one throws away their SL mags!”, how true!

  28. Oh, I definitely liked the old layout better. But I can not stand the thought of missing even one recipe or gardening tip…so I am still a subscriber! You send them a link to this post!

  29. Hi, B.M. (did you ever notice that’s what the initials for BooMama are?)

    I forwarded a link to this post, to a good friend who’s in management at SL. I imagine you’ll get some attention, at least from her. I’ll even see her at church supper tonight and I’ll be sure she looks in.

    And yes it is trivial. Not at all like it’d be if Crain Publications ever starts messin’ with AutoWeek. Now THAT would be SERIOUS.

  30. Here, here! Yet another unhappy reader! I guess I might go the Paula Deen route too. I do enjoy Home Companion, yet it has changed quite a bit, as well.

  31. Totally with you…I had finally gotten my own first subscription (as opposed to just reading my mom’s) and did not renew. Very disappointing. Thank you for your OCDness…it makes me not feel so alone :) By the way, I saw great “flair” on Facebook “I have CDO; it’s like OCD except in alphabetical order AS IT SHOULD BE!!!” Hilarious!

  32. What’s so funny is that I work in a doctor’s office. And just before reading this, I walked by one of the waiting areas and did a doubletake upon seeing a copy of Southern Living. You are right. It is not the same. So generic now. *Sigh*

  33. OK, how sad is this. Just last night I was cooking dinner and something came on the TV about the holidays, some supr outdoor light organizer or whathaveyou. And I thought to myself, “the Southern Living Christmas issue will be coming out soon and we’ll get to hear Sophie rave about how excited she is that it has arrived and Christmas can actually take place this year”. I’m not kidding…I seriously was happy for you and your SL Christmas issue anticipation. So I am very sorry to hear that SL is dead to you now. I can’t say that I have an appreciation for the enormity of the situatio, because I don’t think that being bred in Southern California is the “southern living” referred to in the title. But I’ll take your word for it and mourn with you by proxy. ;)

    I do, however,have a tremendous appreciation for the Buttery Blue Cheese Spread with Walnuts from the December 2000 issue (or is that “ishah”?) Mmmmm-mmmm! Even if one chooses not to make the green and red bell pepper “holly” for on top!

  34. I am laughing out loud at the first comment! I so totally have one of those landfills in my family. I want so badly to go over there one day when they’re gone and use those dull talons to clean it up!

    But I digress.

    I have to go get some construction paper at Target today… I will FOR SURE look at the new issue.
    Be back later…

  35. Okay … I’m just tossing this out for the sake of discussion … and because I personally think these magazines should be in the hands of every fine southern woman…

    Have you considered giving Southern Lady Magazine (http://www.southernladymagazine.com/) and Victoria (http://www.victoriamag.com/magazine/) a try??? They are beautiful magazines.

  36. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I recently decided to become an adult and get my own subscription instead of bumming off family members.

    Imagine my chagrin to discover a new SL! I can’t stand the new design. I always turn to the recipes first and imagine my dismay to find out the layout had changed.

    It’s a difficult pill to swallow, this new design. I’m trying to grin and bear it.

  37. I guess I am going to have to hand in my “Southern Born and Breed” Card! While the changes with SL were drastic – can I tell you I am ok with them? Ok – here’s where my OCD kicks in – that stack perfectly now. They don’t slide to the left anymore when stacked perfectly in my living room. Even though there aren’t as many recipes, I do like the format they are now printed in. And as someone with limited inside knowledge of the subject – the printed magazine market vs. the online magazine market is a booger right now! Can I still remain a southern belle even with these thoughts?

  38. I absolutely totally agree with you. I am such a passive person that I take it in stride and assume I am the only one who feels this way and I must not stand in the way of progress. But I HATE it. They took away all that was special about SL and made it the southern tradition that it was. Try Taste of the south magazine. I love it now!!!

  39. It’s a tragedy and what might be considered a sign of the end times.

    And no, I do not exaggerate.

    Much.

  40. How can the publishers of SL have not heard that ancient bit of wisdom, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”?

  41. I had noticed that the binding had changed (and I don’t like it), but having been really busy lately thought maybe the content difference was due to the summer months.

    However, I only save my issues for a year…then I go through them and tear out only the things that I LOVE. I then paste them in sketch diary books that you can buy in the art supply department. It’s cutting and pasting like in kindergarten!

    I have the best time perusing those books…looking at the travel things that I save, decorating ideas, house plans, etc.

    I don’t worry about the recipes because if you have a subscription the recipes are available online on their website. I also frequently buy the annual recipe books.

  42. I have to tell you that I agree with you. I had my hands on the September issue many times and put it back. I was like, WHAT’S UP? I used to LOVE getting the fall issue and the Christmas issue. To me they make great decoration on my coffee table. Also, I went to their website and that has changed and I don’t like it at all. I won’t go back. Southern Living people, if you are reading this please go back to the original design on the magazine and the website. SO, I now have Paula Deen’s magazine sitting on my coffee table, looking cute with her grandson and her pretty orange sweater. At least she is Southern. :)

    Love,
    Patty

  43. Sophie – OH MY GOODNESS! I feel EXACTLY the same way. I cannot stand the new version of the magazine. I seriously do not like it at all. I honestly never knew how attached I was to a magazine binding, but I was FREAKING out when I got my first copy of the new style. I don’t care for the new layout either, but the thing that has me the most worked up is the paper and binding. I kept saying to myself WHY WHY WHY!? I don’t enjoy looking through it anymore and just sigh when it shows up in my mailbox. I won’t be renewing either. I couldn’t believe it when I saw this post! I think I might have even pumped my fist in the air and yelled “YES GO SOPHIE!” RURNT INDEED!

  44. Thank you for addressing the issues to today that are important to women!
    I nearly passed out recently when my momma told me she had not renewed her subscription. We are talking THREE generations of getting Southern Livings (and yes my garage is overflowing with back issues because I REFUSE TO EVER THROW ONE OUT). I don’t like the re-design but I just don’t know if I can cancel just yet. I feel like I’m slowly becoming a yankee if I don’t read it. ha!

  45. Oh one more thing – You are SO right about not throwing them away. I keep ALL of mine just like my Mom does! :-)

  46. I’m totally with you ~ I must confess that I didn’t subscribe, but always read it at my mother’s house. I. do. not. like. the changes. They did a similar thing with my beloved Victoria several years ago, and it wasn’t but another few years before Victoria went under … coincidence? I think not. (BTW, Victoria is back with much of its old look and feel … food for thought SL!!)

  47. Oh man…messing with the design of Southern Living is the equivalent…in at least this Southern Girl’s view…of adding or subtracting from the Bible! I haven’t seen this yet, but I’m going to Go into Harris Teeter this afternoon and check it out.

    I guess we can blame this on the “New South” phenomenon…at least that’s what it’s being referred to as in Charlotte, NC by those who have moved here from more um…”Northern” places and feel that everything Southern needs to be integrated with more “Northern” culture.

    It’s enough to bring on a hissy fit!

  48. AMEN, AMEN, AMEN!!!

  49. You know…I thought something was different but with a relatively new baby in the house I haven’t taken time to ponder this issue the way you have. (: Thanks for bringing it to my attention!

    I’m definitely a southern girl through and through…several copies of SL can be found in my house!

  50. From my friend at Southern Living Magazine:

    “Thanks, Bob, I’m amazed yet not surprised …. I’m forwarding to my Publisher and the Editor-in-Chief.”

    See what you started?

  51. Oh my goodness, BooMama, I thought it was just me!….I don’t like it at all!…And it is just me or is there not as much content?

  52. It does, in fact, prove that nothing is sacred.

    I hate it. I can’t stand the recipe section. I despise the new design. The paper is horrid. The binding is tacky.

    You must take this one all the way to the top, sister.

  53. wonder who will inherit martha’s sl collection?

  54. Thank you for helping me figure out why I have been disappointed for the last year or so. I mean, I still have some lying around with the mailing cover on them. Who’s ever heard of such.

    You have just freed me to go ahead and tell my mama (who started my subscription 10 years ago when I was living above the Mason Dixon line) she can count me out this year. Of course, that means that she’ll have to start saving her issues again. We had agreed that I would save all of mine and she could start saving Cottage Living instead of Southern Living.

  55. First of all, you’re not crazy. Secondly, they messed up Southern Living BIG TIME. If there is one thing all girls are attracted to, it’s charm, and Southern Living took every ounce of charm and southern class in their magazine and THREW IT OUT THE WINDOW. Ahem. I think I feel as strongly about it as you do, only I’ve never been subscriber to the magazine. I do have fond memories of reading through them leisurely and enjoying every page. But not anymore! :-(

  56. Do I hate the new paper? Absolutely. Do I wish the cover looked better? You better believe it. But can I part with my beloved SL? Sorry to say I can’t. As soon as the new copy comes I immediately flip to the essay in the back and breath in the scent of Southern pride. Sometimes you just gotta embrace change and move on…SIGH :-(.

  57. I agree with you 150%!! Not the same as it used to be by a long shot! What a let down. I got this a subscription to this magazine for years from my grandma-no thanks these days.

  58. It’s rurnt beyond all fixin’ is what it is.

  59. I TOTALLY agree with you!!!! Who ever heard of a real southern girl throwing out an issue of SL? They have just “rurnt” everything! Why don’t we meet you in Birmginahm and picket the headquarters!

  60. HA HA HA! The whole time I was reading this I was thinking “what are we going to do with the 20 years worth of SL when my mother in law kicks the bucket.” She was even paying for my subscription until she found out that they got ruined in one of our numerous moves.
    Amanda

  61. I must say that I felt the same way minus the “clawing off the skin” bit! I wanted to claw the actual magazine myself. Even my husband, (a closet SL reader for years) noticed the change with disdain.

  62. Although I do still get my subscription (I have to have SOMETHING to order when my neice and nephew come calling with the fundraiser), I agree … the romance is dead.

  63. So, I wasn’t the only one!!!!

  64. The content is definitely lacking, and the paper is flimsy. Anyone have feedback on the Paula Deen magazine…I might have to give that a try.

  65. I am so, SO glad that I’m not the only one bothered by it! Add to it the fact that my copy comes nearly a month after the new issue appears on the newsstand — I won’t be sorry when my subscription runs out. I have been thinking of calling to cancel out of principle but didn’t do it — now I think I will! They have to know that you can’t mess with Southern Living without getting an earful.

  66. Boo Mama!

    I thought I was the only one! You have given me the strength to actually not renew! I now do Taste of the South for my southern recipe fix and I do heart me some Paula Deen Magazine!

  67. “I just don’t like it, y’all. It used to be such a treat to get the latest issue in the mail, but now Southern Living feels like something I might flip through in a doctor’s waiting room if I was hard-pressed for reading material.”

    Can I just say: AMEN!

    I was in the doctor’s office last week waiting on dear hubby and I felt the EXACT.SAME.WAY.

    Now, I know I’m not a Southerner, but rest assured when we made the trip from Maine to SC once a year as a kid I enjoyed perusing my Aunt’s “library” of Southern Living in the sun room. (Ya’ll, I was pre-adolescent!)

  68. Amen and Amen! WHAT were they thinking?
    I just can’t believe it ~ some things are just shameful. Might just rank right up there with white after labor day . . .

    I no longer take the magazine either and it’s very sad.

  69. Wow, I found all of your comments to be very interesting! I am an SL staffer and think the redesign has added a lot of value to our pages (bigger images, better sidebar info, more detailed photo taglines, wonderful words by great Southern writers). The redesign and binding change are bold steps for a 40-year-old magazine, and it saddens me that so many Southern girls dislike it. For the record, the paper didn’t change. I cook a lot and think the recipes are even easier to navigate. Also, the Food section has an abundance of great recipes in the last quarter of this year.

  70. Oh, I have noticed the change and I am none too pleased! I have unread issues dating back to March 2008. That’s about SEVEN issues I haven’t read, and I’ve NEVER had unread issues of SL lying around before! I obviously noticed the cheap paper, but the content just isn’t there for me anymore. It’s boring. I don’t study the articles and pictures like I used to. And I miss my once-a-month Saturday appointment with my new SL and a big ol’ cup of coffee. I just have no desire to read it anymore….or even look at the pictures!

    Luckily, I am like Martha and have every issue from 1996 til the present, so I can go back to the Southern Livings of yesteryear for my SL fix. Thank you for bringing this up, BooMama. I think you may have started a revolution!

  71. Faithful Chick and I have been emailing about this whole redesign debacle, and she just sent me the most brilliant email that I had to share with y’all:

    “Let’s stage a sit-in. We can all put on our capri pants and wedge sandals and sit in our SEC team chairs outside of the SL offices. You bring the iced tea and I’ll bring the cheese straws.”

    LOVE IT A MILLION TIMES.

  72. almost like when coke decided to come out with “NEW COKE”!!!! terrible, terrible decision.

  73. Ooh, yes, I totally agree. I’m a Northern girl whose family is from the South. The old SL made me question the sanity of my family leaving the glorious Ole South. But now, it’s just another mag. Poorly done.

    I’ll tell you my new favorite Southern cooking mag – Taste of the South. Not too thick, but the food? Oh, baby!

  74. I think it would be a great idea for you to send a copy of your post and all of these comments to Southern Living Mag. headquarters. Even though they recently changed, and an immediate reversal might not be possible, they may take notice and change back in the future (just like Coke did). Just a thought. :-)

  75. I used to be able to read & re-read an issue several times before I had read every last word. Now I sit down and go through the whole magazine in 30 minutes. I agree – if there is a new editor in charge, they are defnitely off the mark.

    Here’s to changing Southern Living ….where the living is southern & the southerners are living!

  76. I still get Southern Living, but I hate the new redesign. My husband laughs every month when I bring up yet again that the spine of the mag. is no longer rounded. I also gasped this month when I saw that the annual football review is only available online. What are they trying to do to us?

  77. Okay, y’all – here’s the response I just emailed to Anonymous. I figured we might as well be productive and turn this into a focus group.

    Here goes:

    It’s the cover paper that drives me to distraction – it’s flimsy and BHG-ish now. And I guess it could be a coating or something that’s different, but it doesn’t shine anymore. Southern girls like the shine. :-)

    And I don’t think the recipes are easier to navigate, probably because they don’t look like they’ve always looked. There were some font changes (at the end of last summer, maybe?) that I thought were nice (even though I miss that big ole serif font that used to be in the headlines), but whatever happened back in February or March doesn’t even feel like the same magazine to me. Am I picky? I’m probably too picky. My mama would probably tell you the same. :-)

    There’s just something about that stapled binding and shiny cover that SCREAMS comfort to Southern girls. A friend of mine and I were talking about how the first “grown up” thing we did when we moved into our first apartments was to put OUR VERY OWN copies of SL on the coffee table. Total rite of passage. We’d arrived. :-) But now it feels like BH&G to me. Even Traditional Home has that thick, glossy cover that screams “KEEP ME, LOOK AT ME AGAIN.”

    So how about a compromise? :-) Think they’d give us the old cover back? I think they could mend a lot of Southern fences that way.

    Thanks so much for your comment – what a treat!
    Sophie

  78. Mr. John Alex Floyd Jr.,

    are you reading these comments? This is a debacle second only to the “new and improved Coke” formula in the 80’s. When can we expect SL to go back to its classic, much-loved format? Thank you in advance for your consideration.

  79. OOOOH, I hope Bob Cleveland’s friend does indeed read this blog entry and all the corresponding comments. You might just change publishing standards for SL all by your lil’ ole self.

  80. I’m a Yankee and I totally agree with you! When we lived in VA I subscribed to it for my mother-in-law who lives waaaay up north and she loved it. She’s continued to renew every year since (about 10 years +) and I get to peruse them all when I go to visit. I noticed there was something amiss in her magazine stack this past weekend when we visited. I had a hard time actually locating the SL in her big ol’ stack of magazines…it’s just one of the others now. So sad.

  81. Genni,

    I didn’t tell my friend anything, I just sent her a link and told her to go look. And it was to this page, with the post and the comments and all.

    At my age, this is about the only kind of trouble I can stir up any more.

  82. Okay – I stand corrected. Hubby and I just did an elaborate side-by-side comparison of the old and new covers, and the covers are equally as glossy. It’s the headline placement and binding that that are different. And the new version isn’t as tall.

    I miss the old binding, I miss the old binding, I miss the old binding.

    But I stand corrected about the paper.

  83. Could not have said it better myself! Used to rush to read it, but now when it comes I might get to it in the next few days. Big difference, but I’m the type person who notices layout, color, etc. Renewed it in March, but only after they lowered my yearly subscription to $9.99!!!

  84. Y’all are cracking me up. I quit getting it years ago when I realized that SL was going to tout mums EVERY October. 2 bales of hay, 3 pots of mums, some indian corn and winter squash from the grocery and MAN – Have you got yourself a front porch decor or what?

    Sorry, I just hate mums.

  85. I SOOOO agree with you. You’re right – it’s just not a treat to sit down and peruse the mag anymore…it’s so “common.” It looks exactly like every other magazine out there. However, I must say that Cooking Light has still hung on to their beloved design, and while the recipes may be light and you may not find your favorite Fried Chicken recipe from them, most things I make out of them are DELICIOUS and kid and hubby approved. Now CL gets the number one spot in my heart. I’m so with you, Boomama.

  86. Boo Mama, You are right on the money! I am very disappointed with the new design. It does not seem like the same magazine, like it is special and could be treasured for many years. I, like many of those who have commented, have stopped subscribing. Maybe they will change it back. At least we can hope!

  87. One more thing:

    My friend D. just articulated what I have been trying to say: the things that once made SL unique (over-sized, stapled binding, recipe layout) are gone now. And so what used to feel special now feels generic.

    That’s all.

  88. Mums aside, I AM making Oven fried catfish tonight at the boys’ request, and I cut that out of SL YEARS ago.

  89. My hubby’s 84 year old grandmother who has saved every issue of Southern Living for the past 40 something (however long it’s been in circulation years) just canceled over the same thing.

    Serious business.

  90. I’m laughing my head off. I didn’t even notice. Now I’M upset too!!

  91. Oh my gracious, I thought it was just me. I feel so much better now that I know I am not alone. I have not liked the changes AT ALL. I, like other commenters, have just thumbed through my copies and set them down. I have already asked my MIL not to renew my subscription for Christmas this year. Thank you everyone. You have give validated my feelings.

  92. Well, what timing! I just subscribed to SL less than a week ago, and because I couldnt wait for the first copy I also ran out and bought the current one, and I was so happy with the contents that I must hve just skimmed over all the aesthetics stuff. But then I’m at a desperate stage for something southern too, so maybe that explains it.

  93. How terrible!

    This reminds me of what happened with Texas Monthly. It used to be an excellent magazine that I looked forward to reading every month. Then they made a Yankee the editor-in-chief. He was from NEW. YORK. I guess they thought, “Yeah, that’ll be fine, Texas Monthly won’t change at all with a guy from Manhattan running it, it’ll still have that true Texan flavor.” *Sigh*. What is wrong with the people who run magazines?

  94. OK, I am SO with you on this & here I thought I was the only one in the WORLD who HATES the new design. I cannot even read the recipes with the layout. YUCK! Oh my word, this is so funny to know it’s not just me! I LOVED SL… LOVE the cookbooks. I had a subscription when we lived in the north, moved to the south and now back to the midwest. But, no longer. I CANCELLED my subscription.

    It’s a sad time…. especially as Christmas approaches. I will miss my old SL even more!

  95. Thank heaven’s I’m not the only one!!!!
    I really thought i was the only one displeased by this! We need to send them all the comments on your blog!!!
    I used to savor my SL magazine, save it till no kids were awake, put fresh sheets on the bed, a cup of tea and my magazine… but now, I just flip through it just like BH&G and such… it is a shame I tell you!

  96. Ladies,

    I hate to be the one to burst your bubbles, but I worked in the magazine publishing field for 20 years and the reality of the changes that have made to your beloved magazine is economics.

    When a magazine changes it’s paper stock and binding method it’s not for aesthetic purposes. It is only ever for one reason and that’s to save money. My guess would be their advertising dollars are down and to help offset that, the publishers have chosen to use cheaper paper and cut costs.

    It looks like the time honored tradition of Southern Living has also fallen victim to these tough economic times.

  97. amen and amen. one of the beautiful things about the south is tradition. no matter how the world may change around us, the heritage, traditions and graces of the south stay the same. so why SL had to go and change things, i don’t know…

  98. You know their offices are in Homewood – off Lakeshore I believe.

    I quit my subscription to SL a while back, so I had no idea they had changed.

    (I totally agree that there aren’t any SL magazines in the landfill – that’s almost blasphemous to even consider! You can buy old ones at yard sales, for crying out loud.)

  99. i do agree with GiBee…i’ve been a fan of southern lady for a long time now! though it’s a smaller publication–not as much stuff as SL. and i don’t think it’s monthly. but it’s a fun one!

  100. I will jump in there to comment, not because I have anything to say that hasn’t been already said, but just in case Southern Living DOES look at this post and comments. I want them to know how upsetting this is! I had let my subscription lapse when we moved to Minnesota (probably needed it more there!) and was just thinking that I need to get started again, but I won’t until they fix it back the way it was! As for saving money- I don’t want to spend MY money on something I’m going to throw away! The “old” format was more like an investment in home management.