Related Articles: Literary, All

Start Bitching

Local Magazine Could Use a Few Good Subscribers

Magazines hold a very warm and fuzzy space in my heart. As the piles build up in my house and at work, I've been accused of being "addicted" or "obsessed." I've been told I have a "hard time letting go." To which I say: whatever. I'm a collector. They are my collection.

Three or four bucks and I can have years of reading pleasure. Vintage Sassy, early '90's Martha Stewart holiday issues, now out-of-print Nerve Magazine. They hold up folks!

And Bitch magazine holds a special spot in that fuzzy space in my heart. Because while Bitch supports my right to read People at the gym and skim through Us Magazine in two minutes during a break from work, it also gives context and offers witty, well-thought criticism to that same pop culture obsession. The current issue (#21) focusing on Maturity and Immaturity, includes an article on the state of feminist bookstores, an interview with teen memoirist Zoe Trope, the "Bitch List" guide to favorite things, and the always helpful book and music reviews.

This home-grown Bay Area magazine (former zine) has grown steadily since 1996, filling an important spot on the newsstand opposite the Glamours, Cosmos, and Luckys. Unfortunately, as is wont to happen to great things that don't sell out, Bitch Magazine is struggling and needs some help to hang in there. According to Marisa Meltzer, Ad Sales and Publicity Manager, "We're just not selling as many copies as we need to cover our costs. Since we don't rely on ads to cover much of our budget, we need to make money from newsstand sales and subscriptions. They've been steady, but it's almost like they've plateaued. We need the magazine to grow in order to keep it in business."

Editor and Publisher Lisa Jervis offered a quick lesson in newsstand versus subscription sales in a recent e-mail sent out urging people to subscribe as well as support the magazine in other ways. "When people buy Bitch at a bookstore, we eventually (four to five months later) get between $1.77 and $1.98 of the $4.95 plus tax that it costs. When people subscribe, they pay only $3.75 per issue (better for them), and we get all of the money right away (better for us). A lot of people think that buying Bitch on the newsstand supports us just as much as subscribing. Some even think it's more helpful because it convinces bookstores that Bitch is worth carrying. But the bottom line is that Bitch is much better off having you as a subscriber than as a newsstand buyer."

As of a couple weeks ago, Bitch needs about 3,000 more subscribers to get those numbers nice and happy. They could also use some guerilla marketing help: distributing postcards to cafes, salons, women's health clinics, pitching the mag to bookstores that don't stock it, asking libraries to subscribe, hosting Bitch events. To help out in this way, contact Marisa.

I don't want to lose my Bitch so I subscribed. You too?