Martha Stewart Living has become a very different magazine than it was even ten years ago. Its evolution has been swift and there were indeed some growing pains in those in-between years when it struggled with its identity and how best to present itself to the world. In 2018 it started to feel right again. The ideas were a little more sophisticated; the recipes were a little more elevated; the design improved; the flow of the magazine from cover to cover felt more like a discovery. This was achieved without falling back into nostalgia, which I feel is dangerous in the publishing world. The magazine had to feel modern and it had to appeal to the widest possible demographic in order for it to sell ads and sell subscriptions as well as copies at the newsstand. That meant not alienating the longtime subscribers who have come to expect a certain level of innovation and inspiration but who still want something fresh and of-the-moment. It achieved that too.
In the September issue, things went a little awry with the introduction of QR-codes in some of its features. (The recipes for the cookies featured in "Bite Club" were not printed in the magazine and could only be accessed by code. The code, however, did not work, leaving most readers without a way to actually make the cookies depicted in the magazine). I understand there are sometimes technical difficulties but I still maintain that the recipes for all of the food depicted in the magazine should always be printed in the magazine; that's ostensibly what a magazine buyer is paying for: printed content. The editors were very quick to rectify the situation, however, so kudos to them. They quickly fixed the technical issues and then developed a downloadable booklet containing the recipes for even easier access. In subsequent issues, the QR codes were still present but were only used to take readers to additional content, not missing content. It was a speedy recovery!
I won't review each issue as I have done in the past. I will simply say that as a reader I appreciate the level of consistency and quality. I am pleased that each issue has one article on each of the core-content areas: cooking, crafting, decorating, gardening and homekeeping. I am pleased with the ever-excellent photography and the inclusion of Martha's personal touch from time to time.
Living still has a flavor all its own among its cousins at the newsstand. It still stands out as being just that little bit more creative and hands-on. It's not so much about trends, as Elizabeth noted, but about embracing creativity and providing ideas and solutions to make life a little brighter, a little more inspired and a lot more colorful. I look forward to the 2020 issues, which will celebrate the magazine's 30th year in print!
Click here to get the recipe.