(Editor's Note: from 2009. Lotta water under the bridge since then)
What a fascinating publication.
I know I'm supposed to sneer at it because it's in the check-out line at the supermarket. I suppose a cover that simultaneously exhibits a Turbo Juice Diet and cupcakes is a target rich environment for making sport. It says "God Bless America" right in the title block, which would propel the average hipster intellectual directly from derision to rage. Me, I'm kind of in awe of the thing.
I never looked in one until I was in it. That's not that unusual for me. I've been on TV and in a handful of newspapers and so forth. I've been on some radio stations. Way back when, I was sunbathing at the beach, and a biplane droned by dragging a banner with an advertisement inviting me to go and see the band I was in that evening. It had to be pointed out to me. "Isn't that, you know, you?" I had never paid even cursory attention to any of those outlets or venues before I was featured in them. I'm in the Noel Coward camp on that issue.
But that has no meaning, at least from my point of view. I heartily disdain the common attitude that everything that I don't like, or simply isn't entirely geared towards my world view, is bad and should be banned. I'm not interested in cupcakes or dieting. So what?
The really interesting thing about Woman's World is that like most things that are "square," it's useful to a lot of people and it makes money. Think about that in the publishing world. That's an exclusive club they've joined.
I'd point you to their website, but it doesn't exist. Think of the nerve of that. All the whiners in the newspaper business say the Internet is killing them because they can't charge for their content. Man up, shut it off, and charge for your content. It's very simple.
Pinch Sulzberger would rather give Bill O'Reilly a loufah rubdown than deign to pay attention to Woman's World. But Woman's World charges 62 bucks a year for 52 issues. They have 1.4 million subscribers. The New York Times is a daily, of course, but they barely crawl over the million subscriber line, and likely won't be able to keep their head above the million paying customer line much longer. And since they're hemorrhaging money like a print version of an abbatoir, they're basically paying people to read them, and borrowing money to do so. My wife had to pay $1.79 to purchase a Woman's World today to see if I was in it. If you want to read it - pay, is such a wonderful bet to make, and win at, for a publisher these days.
I certainly have learned more about what the average person wants, needs, and is interested in by reading Woman's World than I would by reading a week's worth of The New York Times. I've known lots of women, and many are interested in dieting and cupcakes - simultaneously or alternatingly, take your pick, - no matter how strenuously they try to convince you they've removed themselves from the hoi polloi.
People will pay to read Woman's World, and wouldn't cross the street to read 100 pages of editorials masquerading as news if it was free. Which one is useful and interesting? Come on, it's science; don't be a denier.