Dear Debbie & Laurie,
You guys publish what is undoubtedly my favorite feminist magazine. I love that BUST is independently owned, takes no crap, and is so much fun. You don’t devote every word of every issue to The Discourse. You highlight what’s good in the world and how women are making progress without requiring that your readers be feminists with a capital F. You also keep track of problems without being so unbelievably dreary. I love your slant. Please keep going forever.
Despite all this, I went from subscribing to picking up newsstand copies years ago because, as they say online, reasons. Here are a few:
Reason 1) Softball Tête-a-Têtes
I almost never read the interviews in BUST. Even if you’re highlighting a femme I already fantard over or crush on, I’d skip reading the interview in favor of seeing that lady’s film or listening to her album or watching her perform/ compete/ campaign/ create/ generally kick ass.
And to be perfectly blunt (alas, German upbringing) putting so many interviews in each issue seems like lazy journalism, especially when it your writers appear into hanging out with their idols / besties. Sure, BUST has limited staff and a smaller budget, plus lots of pages to fill. And who wouldn’t want a chance to hang out with lady tours-de-force? But if I want to hear girly chatter it’s more fun to go hang out with my own friends than just sit around read about it. More controversy might go farther as well.
But what I’d ultimately prefer to the interview overload is more old-fashioned storytelling. Your articles are engrossing. Please keep that up!
Reason 2) Closed to Tech
BUST seems to have a decided lack of tech-related content. It’s true, no magazine can be everything, and maybe a lot of women don’t want to hear about it. But if you already do craft culture so well — why not extend your coverage to maker culture? There are a zillion women and men who are pushing the boundaries of fabrication and art using amazing new technologies. Please show us (in stories, not interviews) who they are.
What are internet trends and write about what’s behind them? Who are the movers and shakers in women’s medicine and what kinds of innovations are we seeing? How is science and art being blended together. Where’s the ragged edge? What’s the status of women at a companies like Tesla, or how has the playing field changed (or not changed) in Silicon Valley? Where are new tech centers opening up in the world and how is this affecting the ladies who live there?
Reason 3) What Happened to Fashion?
No, women aren’t all about fashion, but I spend a lot of time on it, so it was disappointing to see the magazine’s stronger take on fashion in the early years dwindle. Maybe it was too expensive to do multiple shoots for each issue? Maybe other readers were complaining? Not sure, but I miss the clothes. Plus I feel like there’s such a great chance to do more editorial shoots. I want to see what trans women are wearing. Girlie gamer gear. The beautiful and never-ending variations of hijab. The possibilities are juicy.
If the traditional samples and studios rigamarole has you down, you could go out on the streets and see how people express themselves. If it’s too pricey to print so many pages of photos, you can start hiring illustrators. Lots of solutions here.
Reason 4) The Same Old Ads
I totally get (and support) that BUST doesn’t want to be run by advertisers. Muchos kudos to you for sticking it out in this money-talks world. But could you open things up a little? I actually enjoy many of the ads in other faves (e.g. Glamour, PopSci). I don’t necessarily buy these products but well-done ads inform and entertain by showcasing clothing trends, tiny new eco-cars, etc. Or what about taking in revenue from brands that traditionally market to men and are now to cast their nets wider? What about cool little startups? In any event, it’s okay to have more ad content to help you along.
Your advertisers don’t all have to be the purest of the pure either. Outsourcing, though often an ugly fact of the modern world, does lead to more opportunity, especially as people in developing countries organize. Ask the ladies of the Mumbai garment industries. Yes, their working conditions are often grim or intolerable by our standards — but they’d rather be able to buy health and security for their families than have no prospects for employment at all. We in the west have it easy. Our Triangle Shirtwaist disasters were long ago.
At the very least if you could please ask Olympia to change their ad format. If i see one more white background with all these miniscule indie images I may do something drastic.
Reason 5) Reviews For Missing Products
With only six issues a year, it makes sense that you have a long lead time. But that makes me super curious about so many of the music and book reviews are for stuff that’s not available yet? I go nuts looking up creators only to be told their work is not available yet. It’s so frustrating. Please help.
So to sum up, thanks very much for reading this and for producing such a fine ladymag for so many years now. I truly hope you can keep going in the tough-to-manage world of publishing. Thanks also for the many parts about BUST that work — the articles, the crosswords, the one-handed reads, the crafting, and the love.