Can We Save Domino?

Can We Save Domino?
{A collage of Domino articles that have been featured on AphroChic}

It’s taken me awhile to write this post. By now, you all know that Domino Magazine will soon be no more. After four incredible years, Domino will finish with one last issue in March. For many, including myself, it is hard to believe. No more Domino, no more website. It feels absolutely heartbreaking.

All over the blogosphere, and from Facebook to the The Huffington Post everyone is talking about what happened at Domino. Over the past week I couldn’t help but overhear people in coffee shops and on the bus whispering, “did you hear about Domino?” In some ways it’s nice to know that there is a whole community out there that loves this magazine as much as I do. It also makes it even more upsetting to see something that really meant a lot to so many of us just disappear. And it’s leaving without any recognition of the amazing talent that made Domino something special and its loyal following of over 800,000 subscribers who would do anything to save it.

So, as many of us continue to talk about the loss, I am wondering, can we save Domino? Over the past week I have learned more about the magazine business than I ever wanted to. It’s incredible to think that with close to a million subscribers Domino could still fold. And yet it did, and not because of us, not because we weren’t reading the magazine, following the website daily, posting our own pics in their flickr group in hopes that we might one day be featured in this incredible publication, but because subscribers don’t make or break magazines, advertisers do.

In this age of consumerism Domino fell not because of its consumer base, but because of an industry which doesn’t serve customers but advertisers. That is the sad and simple truth. We lost something that inspired hundreds of thousands, that helped many of us find our own unique voice in the world of design, because of ad revenue. I find that point infuriating, and it leaves me feeling so empty, and asking what can be done? Well, I have some thoughts and ideas that I would like to share with all of you, and that I shared last week in a letter to Conde Nast publishers, the awful folks who cancelled our beloved magazine:

1. There needs to be a creative solution to save this magazine. Ad revenues fell, but many subscribers are willing to pay more, even in a dwindling economy. I pay $8 a month for Living Etc., and would definitely pay the same for Domino.

2. Publishers have a responsibility to their base. Domino was more than a magazine, it was the only place that featured interior design for a younger audience. In many ways, it was our design manifesto – young, fresh, diverse, and with a clear message that design should make you happy. The Domino brand is significant and unique and Conde Nast should not turn it’s back on it or us.

3. Focus on the website. The magazine may be gone, but Domino’s website offers a trove of resources for many designers and design enthusiasts. I refer to it often when researching content for AphroChic or inspiration for my home. Now, it’s possible that Dominomag.com can continue to bring us style updates, articles, budget-friendly tips, video clips, and more. Such a site could be effective with a much smaller staff, would cost a fraction of what it costs to run an entire magazine, and would likely retain many of the magazine’s advertisers. Especially now that it’s readers have made such a fuss. To keep revenues up, a small subscription cost could be charged to reader’s wanting to access the complete features of the online magazine.

4. Finally, if Conde Nast still doesn’t budge, ask for your money back. The plan is to replace the subscription you already paid for with another Conde Nast publication like Lucky Magazine. Refuse it, and let them know that it’s Domino or bust. If we hit their wallets, they may start to rethink things.

It’s amazing the things that can make a difference in your life. Domino helped me define my style, and made interior design fun. Flipping through its pages, I found my own voice as an interior designer. I thank everyone who made Domino special, and I really do hope that it won’t go away.

Please send your own ideas and thoughts on Domino folding to Conde Nast:

http://www.condenet.com/
Telephone: 212.286.2860
Fax: 212.286.5960
4 Times Square New York NY 10036USA

And, let me know your suggestions for saving Domino in the comments section, or over on Facebook where we’re discussing how “Can We Save Domino?” Maybe I’m dreaming, but I believe that together, we can save Domino.

14 replies
  1. Angel Robinson
    Angel Robinson says:

    When I heard about this, I was so sad. First Blueprint, which I felt had the goods to be a really dominant player in the design mag world, folds and now Domino? This is incredible! Thanks Jeanine for giving us the info to fight this and show Conde Nast that Domino has a large following and we aren’t going anywhere!

    Reply
  2. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    I am totally with you on this. It is just heartbreaking. I would also pay more for my subscription. I wish I could come up with other creative solutions.-Chante

    Reply
  3. AphroChic
    AphroChic says:

    I am so glad to see that you all are planning to contact Conde Nast. Together, we can make a difference! I have heard many people say they are willing to pay more for a subscription. Maybe this idea will begin to catch on.

    Reply
  4. Margaret Nk
    Margaret Nk says:

    I want to echo that Blueprint folded for the same reason and it will take an industry revolution, kind of like the political one we are in the midst of: subscriptions instead of advertising paying for a magazine. Personally I would prefer the online format…maybe an online subscription to keep costs down?

    Reply
  5. SiddityintheCity
    SiddityintheCity says:

    I was sad to see Domino go too, but as a (former) insider to this industry (I worked for Country Home’s ad sales department, and as you may know, we got the rug pulled out from under us last month), I sincerely doubt Conde will revive it, even with fan outcry. Unfortunately, subscriptions just don’t come close to the kind of money ads bring in. Domino’s sub revenue probably averaged $10 per subscriber. Even with 850,000 of us (the rate base, or minimum number of eyeballs they promise their advertisers), they would barely cover a year’s paper and postage with that. Not ink (which is tied to-and fluctuates with-petroleum costs, did you know?) not lights, not staff salaries, not the production of a year’s worth of issues (costs to produce tend to run over $1 mil – PER ISSUE). Paper. And. Postage. They *had* to have advertiser backing to go on. I absolutely agree that change needs to come, but I don’t think people really get how much personal cost they’re in for when they say they want to pay more and worry less about ads. There are a few ad-free mags out there. They tend to be very thin, and very expensive. And until we as readers accept that we might be paying $50 a year for six 50-page issues, without complaint…sigh. I just think the cycle will continue.They SHOULD keep the website up, though. I mean, come on. There was a great community built around that mug, and the resources were fantastic. Eesh.

    Reply
  6. AphroChic
    AphroChic says:

    Thank you SiddityintheCity for sharing. I think so many of us are learning more about the magazine industry since Domino folded. The outcry for Domino is absolutely amazing. I’m sure many of you have seen today’s article in the New York Times home section: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/05/garden/05domino.html. But I think you’re right. The cost would be passed to consumers, and it would be a big one. I pay about $100 a year for Living Etc., and I have to tell you I don’t mind. I love the magazine, the content is always fresh, and it’s a small luxury for me. If they do it in the UK, why can’t we do it here in the U.S.?While our request to Conde Nast might be falling on deaf ears right now, I do keep hearing the web idea going around. Keeping the website up will have costs associated, but it would be nothing compared to publishing a magazine for hundreds of thousands of readers.I hope someone somewhere will come up with a strategy to keep at least part of Domino in our lives. As the NYT says, the blogs may be the only thing left for young women who love interior design. As a blogger, of course I want people to come and read my content, but nothing can replace sitting on the sofa on Sunday mornings and reading a great magazine. It just can’t be replaced.

    Reply
  7. SiddityintheCity
    SiddityintheCity says:

    Oh, and I love your blog, btw. Lurker, etc. Didn’t mean to come in here grousing 🙂The web *should* be a viable option, especially if people are willing to pay to subscribe. What mag companies have been finding lately is that the web advertising isn’t bringing in the kind of money everyone thought, when it brings in money at all. I think paying for online subscriptions might be a much better plan! Though again, it would have to be a die-hard fan base, because even the online subscription model, which lots of news and finance mags tried early on, failed to yield many readers willing to pay. Maybe we can just send paypal donations to the Domino staff and ask them to blog for pay?

    Reply
  8. Jess
    Jess says:

    Thank you for posting. As a marketing manager for a mag. publisher and interior design-lover, the loss of Domino is deeply disturbing. Conde Nast invested years of money into this brand- a very successful one, too!- only to just throw it away. No plans to keep the website up or turn into a blog, either. It doesn’t make sense to throw that money away while– in no offense to these editors– Allure, Portfolio and Details, for example are still published by Conde.

    Reply
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  10. Arlice Nichole
    Arlice Nichole says:

    Your ideas are great ones and I know how you feel. I felt the same way over Honey and Vibe Vixen magazines a few years back when they folded. Well, both are relaunching their website real soon and I bet maybe Domino will do the same thing in time because it was so popular.

    Reply

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