Sunday, May 09, 2010

Too Many Family History Magazines in UK?

Hello All -

I know that this might seem a strange post after my previous one regarding the new Your Family History magazine being on the market now, but I will delve into this opinion of mine. I did think about all the family history magazines on the newstand when I saw this new one out on the shelves at the local W.H. Smiths. I will admit that I do like reading magazine, especially ones to do with genealogy and family history. However, are there too many out there? Are these magazines just overlapping each other in their content?

In the US there was the closing of the Ancestry magazine recently, and the closing of Everton's Genealogical Helper about a year ago or so. In the UK Ancestors magazine has just recently ceased publication in the last few months. Is it the bad economy causing this to happen, or is it just a saturation of genealogy publications on the market? I am not too sure to be honest -perhaps a combination of these and other reasons not mentioned.

In my humble opinion, I do think that there is a bit of a saturation of family history magazines on the market, especially in the UK - there are at least 4-5 different ones on the newstands now. Don't get me wrong, I fully support a free marketplace where anyone can publish any magazine they want and if the market supports it to keep it on the shelves that's great. I just sort of think some of the magazines, at least in the UK, seem to be all the same with a few exceptions. There really needs to be a real difference between these publications. For example, the new publication out that I just mentioned (YFH) focuses more attention on social history rather than just basic research and records, which is what many of the others focus on. There is nothing wrong with that, but there doesn't need to be 3 or 4 all doing the same thing.

I know that the editors of these magazines would argue that they are different from one another, but they don't seem to be in my experience of reading and purchasing these publications - however this is just my own personal view. I know that there is somewhat of a difference in style and context, but they just seem too similar to me.

For example, there has been times when I have seen one month a magazine will feature on wills as one of their main articles, then the next month another magazine will do a main article on the same thing. For me personally, I would like to see a vast difference in content and audience for these magazines. There could be the one for the beginner, one for methodology, one for Scottish content, one for Welsh content, one for the advanced genealogist, one for social history (YFH is doing this now), one for just computers and technology in family history, just to name a few ideas. Not to complain, but many of these magazines simply focus too much on English research and records - this is definitely needed, but there is no need for 3 or 4 doing this.

However, the marketplace will always dictate who survives and who doesn't. So far in the UK these magazines have survived, with the exception of one in the recent past.

1 comment:

Chris Paton said...

Ancestors ceased publication because of a change in strategy at the National Archives - TNA will in fact be launching a new title later in the year with a different twist on things. Your Family History is a new title that uses the same co-partner that TNA used to work with to produce Ancestors (Wharncliffe).

For specifically Scottish content, the online magazine Discover my Past Scotland is available at - there is also a dedicated English title available from the same website.

As someone who has written for many of the titles you've mentioned, I would say they do all have very different readerships - some like Practical Family History are for beginners, others like Family Tree Magazine are for older readers with a great deal of expertise to share. Ancestors was a more authoritative title showcasing the best of TNA resources; Your Family Tree and Family History Monthly cover a wide range of subjects at different user levels. Whilst each may at some point carry an article on wills or whatever, most people don't buy all the titles, and often the articles may be extremely different to each other even when in the same subject area!

PS: Congrats on the 100 blog entry!