The Simple Things

Who likes the simple things in life?  I might not have met many of you personally, but I’m fairly confident that if you didn’t like the simple things, you wouldn’t be following Planet Penny!   And it is the little things that give pleasure, the whole ‘Happiness is a Warm Puppy‘ thing.  (Or in my case, a warm Higgins!)   A sunny day, a small damp hand in yours, the first lick of an icecream, everyone has their own tiny moments to light up the boring bits of life.

One my personal simple pleasures is a magazine subscription.  Most post these days is pretty humdrum, but a favourite magazine plopping on to the door mat and the anticipation of opening the wrapper at coffee break is lovely.  And there are so many magazines these days and they are so expensive,  it’s hard to make the choice of just the right one and be certain of it before you sign up for a subscription.

The magazine I have been most loyal to is ‘Selvedge’, I have every issue going back to the very first one and they sit on a shelf on my studio ready to be dipped into for inspiration.  Even the advertisements are inspiring, and there are fascinating articles on textiles from all over the world, from the depths of history as well as news and interviews from textile artists and designers.  I really admire the thought and originality which has gone into the look of the magazine, distinctive and recognisable, but always original.

These are some of my favourite covers…

Selvedge Magazine covers

And then there is ‘Mollie Makes‘.  Do you remember the kerfuffle when it first came out?  So many of us were desperate to get hold of one of those first copies, Facebook seemed to be full of people discussing it!  But there was an introductory offer for the first few issues which is always a good hook,  and it has consistently delivered.  And, I think importantly it is another magazine which decided on a look, a style and colour palette which really works and makes it stand out recognisably as itself amongst the huge plethora of knitting, crochet, scrapbooking, and other crafting magazines on the news stand.

Montage of Mollie Makes covers

And out from the ‘Mollie Makes’ stable trotted ‘The Simple Things‘…

Over several weeks we were beguiled by the advertising and appealing images, and the wonderful evocative covers.  So distinctive.  Beautifully designed, the covers made the appeal of The Simple Things universal.  And inside? Well, it’s not a craft magazine,  but there’s craft to see.  Not cookery, but fabulous recipes.  Not just a travelogue, but wonderful photography from interesting cities.  Stylish but simple interiors,  beautifully written pieces about nature… And not aimed at any one small section of society, sex or age group, there’s  just something for everyone.

So I bought my subscription, and each month I would remove the wrapper and smile.  And after relishing the contents I would sit it  on a side table where it would make me happy when I passed by.

And you can see why…

The simple thing Magazine covers

But over the past few months, it hasn’t made me happy.  In fact I have been getting so grumpy on a monthly basis that I decided the best way to get it out of my system is write about it!  A few months back I unwrapped my new copy of ‘The Simple Things’ and found that they had abandoned their stylish and distinctive design for something akin to the promotional magazines handed out for free in your local supermarket.

New the Simple thing covers - horrible!

Oh dear, I can hardly bring my self to give them space on my blog!  So gone is the universal appeal, it’s all about young women now.  Oh, and slim young women with perfect teeth!  But why?  Why take something which stood out from the crowd and deliberately cause it to merge into the background?

I still love the content, but it doesn’t make me happy the way that it used to…

I know I’m not alone.  Just looking at some of the comments on ‘The Simple Things’ Facebook page every month when the new issue is published shows me that.  So I thought I’d have a little rant and find out what you think, I’d love to know.

And maybe  if enough of us express an opinion Future Publishing might just notice!

You never know….

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19 thoughts on “The Simple Things

  1. Kirsten

    Hi! I’m totally with you; It just looks like some random cover pulled from a stash shared by 10 magazines. I loved the simple look (mind you, I never read it, only quickly glanced in it in the bookshop).

    Mollie Makes however never fails to brighten my day when it gets in the mail 🙂 Love that magazine!

  2. Bev Newman

    I’ve not bought or read it as I’m on an economy drive but you’re right the later editions look like something Tesco or Asda would give away for free. Have they had a change in editor? Or sold out to advertisers who want “bright young things” displaying their wares? Either way, they certainly don’t believe in the commonsense adage of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. I would think the best way to “persuade” them to change back is for all their subscribers to vote with their feet and take the pennies away as they don’t seem to be responding to customer feedback x

  3. Curlygirlcoop

    I have similar problems with Gathered by Mollie Makes. When it came out it was exciting, there was plenty to read for a £1.49 weekly digital mag and lots of things in it to make and do. More recently, it seems like its way to promote the other magazines in the family and some of the content is even the same! I keep subscribing in the hope it will improve, but I’m not sure that I’ll bother with it for much longer 🙁

  4. Helen Stevens

    I’ve never heard of Selvedge, but have seen Molly Makes in a local shop. I would have loved to buy it, but the price here in South Africa is astronomical, far beyond my pensioner means! I’ll just keep on doing my own thing without reference to books!

  5. Fi

    It’s a relief to find it’s not just me. I had meant to cancel Gardener’s World when I subscribed to Simple Things, but never got around to it. Three magazines each month is just too extravagant. Mollie Makes and GW are all stored and referred to again and again but Simple Things goes to the coffee area at work. I think my decision is clear.

  6. Cybele

    Funny, I’ve seen the comments about The Simple Things going ‘downhill’ but I’m stil really enjoying it. I preferred the previous covers without young women but I still like reading it a lot. I got bored with Mollie Makes quite soon but found the crafting to be a little superficial, prefer something to get my teeth into.

  7. Joan

    I stopped subscribing to The Simple Things for that very reason!! I still have Mollie Makes and enjoy what it brings very month. We’ ll see what happens with that ….meanwhile no more Simple Things! Joan

  8. Celia

    I bought the first issue of Simple Things, and although it looked stylish I thought the content was thin – and the article on identifying British Trees that showed the wrong leaves for an English Oak sealed it for me. I haven’t bothered with buying another.
    I’m not surprised by the cover redesign – marketing loves the obvious/cliche/pigeonhole approach.

  9. KateUK

    Know what you mean…I always browse in Smiths before purchasing magazines…I get thoroughly fed up with all the ‘perfection’ – I know magazines are for escaping to, BUT there is a limit to how much picture perfect I can take, it makes me cross too!

  10. Rhian

    In agree entirely Penny I’ve become quite disappointed with The Simple Things. Seems to have gone ‘commercial’ but agree also with your other choice of magazines -love them
    Regards
    Rhian

  11. Gina

    I never got beyond the first issue of Simple Things I’m afraid. It looked so beautiful and tempting But I felt it was a bit of a con – not much content! I’ve got every copy of Selvedge since the first one too… all sitting in my studios. And I like Mollie Makes.

  12. Penny

    Hi Penny
    I stopped buying The Simple Things when they redesigned their look for that very same reason, I was rather irritated with their shallow approach to their magazine cover. I love Selvedge and only ever page through if I get my hands on a copy, I am yet to own one. I do have a little magazine envy with you clever subscription to them since the beginning though :o) Always liked Mollie Makes but never subscribed, I buy the odd copy here and there. I’m loving Inside Crochet at the moment and pretty Nostalgic too, they are ticking all the right boxes for me at the moment. Good post, we definitely need to air our voices about these magazines xox Penny

  13. Gertie

    Other than Mollie Makes, I’ve never heard of the other two.

    Having said that Morrisons isn’t the greatest for stocking magazines, so that comes as no surprise xx

  14. min

    until i read your blog i didn’t take notice of the latest covers. i agree with you. i am thinking twice about renewing subscription thank you for pointing it out.

  15. Cazzie

    I totally agree with you – I loved both Simple Things and Mollie Makes when they first came out and subscribed to both – but they have both lost that something that made them fresh and different. I have stopped buying them both.

  16. Sunflowerfairy

    Hi Penny

    Completely agree with Simple Things. I felt there was always style over substance but now the style’s gone as well!

  17. Debbie

    Hi Penny, I couldn’t agree more. In fact I haven’t spotted The simple things on the supermarket shelf for a while probably because it now appears to look the same as the mass! I LOVE Selvedge and it consistently has something interesting in it and is a visual treat. I have given up most of my subscriptions purely because the content so often wilts after an initial run and it is then enjoyable to pick out the ones with something worth reading in them. There seem to be new titles virtually every month some definitely worth a look! But perhaps a flooded market?!!

  18. Jenny Woolf

    One of the simple things that gives me pleasure is being able to sit down in a nice cafe and have a coffee or something to eat during a walk. For years we were watching the pennies.
    The greatest simple pleasure is just the company of the people you love.

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