Spineless Rodale Pulls The Plug On Best Life

- - Working

Honestly Rodale it’s not like you fought the good fight or anything. You saw some trouble on the horizon and quickly pulled out a gun and shot yourself in the head.

From the media kit: “Best Life teaches successful men the art of balance. Luxurious yet packed with service, Best Life guides its reader through the many demands of his life—teaching him to manage his finances, nurture his family, care for his health, protect his environment, and still find time to pursue his passions.”

More like: “We created this magazine for advertisers. We don’t give a crap about the staff, contributors or readers. We put all that stuff between the covers to keep the ads from touching each other.”

Look, I get it. These are corporations. The bottom line is the bottom line. It’s just that some of these magazines are starting to look like wall street ponzi schemes.


There Are 19 Comments On This Article.

  1. Donnar Party

    “It’s just that some of these magazines are starting to look like wall street ponzi schemes.”

    Correct. All this crap in the culture, be in Enron/Madoff or Best Life, stems from the same jaded, dishonest, Post Modern place.

  2. Photo Critic

    Can Outsides’ GO magazine be far behind? Luxury adventure for the uber-rich, written and photographed by the borderline broke, edited by the scrapping by in a rich man’s town.

  3. Honestly I think this is a case of being brainless more than spineless. What wizards at Rodale concluded the world needed another book aimed at the same target market/demographic as at least six different publications already on the market?

    I’m guessing the motivation was to pump up ad revenue by inventing new publications to drive more packaged ad deals — enhance revenue with minimal investment. Technically that isn’t a Ponzi scheme. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ponzi_scheme

    To be fair, I’ve never seen a copy of Best Life (guess I never will). But I suspect you are correct in assuming quality content wasn’t the primary objective. I’m guessing competitive issues (vs. Conde’ Nast) were more of a driving force. Once the economy tanked, and ad revenue dipped, it probably became impossible to justify keeping a knock-off magazine in an overcrowded market segment alive.

    What’s really sad is the lack of imagination and vision this demonstrates. Instead of trying to invent something new, Rodale basically decided to copy other publications on the market. They probably deserved to fail. But it is sad for the staff and contributors. Were there any actual readers? If there were, I’m sorry for them too.

  4. Picked it up at an airport once, and leafed through it. It wasn’t anything special, and I’m quite frankly surprised it lasted as long as it did. I’m beginning to agree that the publishing bloodbath is just a necessary, if Darwinian, process that will ultimately give us better stuff to read. When the money leaves, the only people left are the ones that actually believe in what they’re doing.

    • @Doug Boutwell,

      “When the money leaves, the only people left are the ones that actually believe in what they’re doing.”

      A good thing to remember. Maybe there is a reason why this economic upheaval needs to happen every now and then.

  5. It’s tough out there isn’t it?

    I’ll be the first … ok, maybe the second … to admit that I don’t know much about the magazine business, but it seems to me that the content driven model that we love is weak at best; even Vanity Fair has been mighty thin on occasion.

    So … give me somethin’. We all knock & mock the ad driven model so, tell me, how do you build a successful print edition in these rapidly changing times? It’s possible, I know it is.

    If there were no print magazines at all, I’m sure I could clean up if I launched one. So …. no one will convince me that there are no opportunities out there.


    • my 2 cents worth

      @Bruce DeBoer, As much as we complain about the lack of content in today’s magazines and other media, how often do we pitch ideas of our own to those magazines?

      • Artie Fufkin

        @my 2 cents worth, What are the odds on you pitching an idea and then finding that 6 months later somebody else charging peanuts with no terms, licencing nous or business savvy gets the gig? Not sure I’m up for pitching in free ideas in the current climate.

        • my 2 cents worth

          @Artie Fufkin, The sad part about your comment is that the scenario you laid out is absolutely possible. A dirty, rotten, shame, and extremely unprofessional, but possible.

          Another sadness is that I’m working on a wonderful, feel good, story that I’m sure would go over well with readers. It will make an excellent story for one particular national magazine, but I’m hesitant to pitch it because said magazine still owes me money from election night coverage.

          I don’t care about magazines anymore.

          • @my 2 cents worth,
            The fact of the matter is that if you pitch anything, neither conde-nasty nor any other major publication will touch it unless its safe, with familiar looking images, and the same boring diatribe that graces the pages of every other magazine printed in the past 10 years. Publications are like movies and TV these days, recycled plots, and bad acting. It all goes to the biggest name with the lowest bid who is best friends with the shot caller at the mag, or maybe its someone the shot caller wants to be country-club pal’s with.

  6. That’s unfortunate. They always had some nice cover photos. By Jeff Lipsky I think. But maybe there is something to be said about survival of the fittest.. Perhaps budgets and quality will increase on the surviving magazines. But I’m just trying to be positive considering I’m relatively new to the industry and hope it survives past the recession!

  7. I’ve never read this magazine, but it looks like something rich people subscribe to so they can put it on their coffee table to appear even more rich. Sounds like it would have gone under anyway in this economy.

    • anonymouse

      @Christine Blackburne
      err, if it were a real wealthy person’s magazine i think it would have had a chance. it probably targeted a group of people who -wanted- to be wealthy…

      maybe its just me, but it looked pretty shoddy–an advertiser’s trojan horse–from a mile off…

  8. no surprise here…..ditto thought that THEY

    ‘created this magazine for advertisers. We don’t give a crap about the staff, contributors or readers. We put all that stuff between the covers to keep the ads from touching each other.’….”

    it’s why I, as best i am able to, never to cart my horse to these kinds of players….most dont really care about either the work or the life of those doing the work (in this case, the photographers), so i turn them aside…a lesson i learned long ago….

    though, it still saddens….


  9. afashionshooter

    What I liked about it is that you could always flip to the back and see some really nice photos by Richard Phibbs.