Small Farmer's Journal,
And The Decline Of The Periodical

Dateline: 4 April 2017

My thanks to Pam in Vermont for letting me know about the Kickstarter campaign to help Small Farmer's Journal

It's a great magazine. I have subscribed, off and on, for decades (and I have stacks of back issues to prove it). I have also advertised in Small Farmer's Journal. But I am currently not subscribed, so I was not aware that they had gone through some troubles.

Please go to the Kickstarter campaign and check it out. I believe it is a worthy effort to preserve this down-to-earth publication.


While we're on the subject...

As you probably already know, people are not reading newspapers and magazines like they once did. Me included. I used to be an avid daily newspaper reader, but I let the subscription lapse more than ten years ago. 

I don't think that young people read newspapers at all. It's probably just a few old timers who still subscribe. The newspaper business is pretty much doomed. And to think, I once dreamed of operating a small-town newspaper.

Magazines are in the same boat. The magazine business is not what it used to be. Some years back, when I was writing articles for Fine Homebuilding magazine, interacting with various editors, and visiting their headquarters, it was evident to me that the Taunton Press (publisher of that magazine, and several others) was a very prosperous business. The magazines they published were fat with advertising. Taunton had tapped into a vein of publishing gold, and they were skilled at mining it.

I was witness to the glory days of magazine publishing, just before the internet changed everything. My Taunton Press book, The Kitchen Consultant, was the first Taunton book to publish web site addresses with the various listings in the Resources chapter at the end of the book.

I recall having dinner one evening back around that time with the then-editor Kevin Ireton at the Sherwood Inn in Skaneateles, New York. He had driven up from Connecticut to shoot some pictures for an article I was writing for the magazine. The internet was a topic of discussion.

I remember Kevin telling me that Taunton was greatly concerned about the internet's impact. No one really knew what to expect, or how to adapt to the internet and utilize it to make a profit. The problem being, the internet is loaded with information that is pretty much all free.

Well, they were rightly concerned. Fine Homebuilding magazine has managed to survive, but it is no longer fat with advertising. 

I had a Uline sales representative stop by my workshop last year. He used to work for a magazine distributor. He told me that the internet has devastated the magazine publishing industry. There was once big money in the magazine business, but not anymore. He confirmed what I had seen for myself. 

And to think, back in the day, inspired by the success I saw at Taunton Press, I started a national newsletter called Professional Kitchen Craftsman. I dreamed of developing it into a magazine. That little entrepreneurial effort pretty much shriveled on the vine. It was the biggest business failure of my life. An expensive lesson, in many respects.

I used to subscribe to nearly 10 different magazines. But now I subscribe to only three: Mother Earth News, Fine Homebuilding, and Tabletalk

The internet has been, and continues to be, an epic social and economic game changer. How many people saw this coming? 

Personally, the internet has allowed me to develop a home business and break free from wage slavery. I see that as a very good thing. And the free flow of ideas and information is also something that I think is good, particularly in the political realm. 

But the heyday of print publishing (especially periodical publishing) appears to be over. 

I just hope the electricity stays on.


  1. Agreed Herrick. The Newspaper as a physical entity will die within my lifetime, except perhaps in small towns that the Internet has little interest in covering. Magazines are more special interest and so arguably have a more committed base but even these are succumbing to the Internet - or converting over to it.

    We buy one newspaper a year, on Thanksgiving Day - and mostly for The Ravishing Mrs. TB's advertisement review. I cannot tell you the last time I purchased a magazine a store. The last one I remember was 15 years ago, when our middle child was born.

    1. T. B.—
      Thanks for the comment.
      I've noticed that the magazine sections in some stores are shrinking.
      Someday you'll have to tell me what The Ravishing Mrs. TB's advertisement review is all about.

  2. Also Backwoods Home will be ending print of their magazine as of the last issue for this year. Sarah

    1. I didn't know that. Too bad. I used to subscribe. Have several of the bound anthologies.

  3. Elizabeth L. Johnson said,
    Our only local newspaper ideals are so off-the-wall that I cannot waste my money; otherwise, I appreciate taking my time reading a newspaper in my leisure, like reading a book. Now that I have spare-time to read a newspaper, there isn't one to read from this area. As far as your electricity comment, Herrick, smart meters are a detriment. Like north Korea where the government controls ALL electric consumption, and turns it on for the citizens use only rarely, our costs in California can be raised any time the electric company feels like; they got us!!! Now they are set to raise rates on peak hour use by 12%. Our water well pump uses electric company electricity. Since smart meter installation, our bill tripled immediately. I'm glad that at least our house is on solar power.

    1. Smart meters are not good for a lot of reasons. More centralized control being the most ominous. We do not yet have smart meters around me. But electricity costs still go up. It's neat that you are off grid. How long has it been for you? Thanks for the comment.