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Tumbling Like Domino(s)

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The February 2008 Domino; (rightfully) pouty cover girl Zooey Deschanel; and the $3,500 pair of sconces featured on page 25

Domino, the plucky Conde Nast decorating title, will curtsy its way off the shelter mag stage with its March issue, joining Country Home, Cottage Living, O at Home and a slew of others when it does so. It wasn’t a lack of readers (its circ—exaggerated or not—was around 800,000); nor a dearth of substance (the ideas and photography were generally bar none). What’s the issue, you ask? Click MORE for my turn on the soapbox.

Here’s the fatal cocktail: a cruddy economy and a outdated business model—if not dying industry. The February Domino clocked in with around 20 ads: 6 house ads and, by my count, at least three more giveaways. (Cheers to Kravet and Kohler for sticking it through.) Rumor has it that the December issue had only 8 legit ads.

Why not put the budget on the Skinny Bitch diet? They could have nixed sushi takeout at photo shoots and said au revoir to $15/stem peonies. Hey, you didn’t really need that assistant, did you? But that’s just not how Conde rolls.

Distribution is a bitch, paper costs are soaring, and no one buys magazines anymore—and certainly not the blog-happy types that Domino was courting. At news of the shuttering, Design Sponge readers have contributed 321 comments (99% wistful), some scandalously revealing:

Magazines like this are perfect for the airplane ride, a quiet evening at home or a vacation day at the beach.

But apparently not for every day. Thank goodness, for every commenter that suggested we file a petition to keep Domino alive, Design Sponge’s Grace Bonney acted as the voice of reason. Wrote Grace:

ultimately what i wish is that there was a way for conde nast and other large pubs to change the way they make magazines. cut staffs down to smaller sized, do away with bloated salaries, cut photo budgets down some, and stop financing ridiculous projects and trips that aren’t 100% necessary. i feel like it’s time for the publishing industry to get lean and mean and i wish there was a way to apply a new method to magazine making before they cut a pub that had a lot of potential to grow and change into a really great magazine.

Amen, Grace. It’s called web publishing and you’re doing a bang-up job. As literary agent Binky Urban said in a New York Times article earlier this month about the troubled book industry: “This business was never meant to sustain limousines.”

And now it’s not really sustaining much of anybody.

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About Sophie Donelson

A content creator, strategist and creative mind. Head over to my LinkedIn profile to learn more about my experience or drop me a line at sophie (at) sophiedonelson (dot) com.

Selected articles by Sophie Donelson

High Country
House Beautiful, February 2011

Living Large
Martha Stewart Living, September 2010

Gilty Pleasures
Manhattan, July-August 2010

Room Mates
Manhattan, May-June 2010

Oh So L.A. — For Better and For Worse
Globe & Mail (Toronto), May 1, 2010