New. A New Year. A New Yankee. What is not new is that Yankee‘s readers care. Big time. For the past few days my phone here has been ringing off the hook with loyal, faithful, readers, many of whom feel their longtime friend, Yankee Magazine, has gone away. At the moment, I am not their friend. I hear in their voices that they feel as if I abducted their friend and took it to a tattoo parlor and messed everything up. By the time we finish talking, I feel a softening and they admit, well, they haven’t actually READ the issue — they just don’t like the notion that it’s not the Yankee they got last month and all the months before.
And you know what? I love that they care so much. Most of us don’t take the time to call or write. How many of us have actually written a letter to a newspaper or magazine? Heck, fewer than half of us vote.
All an editor can ask is that readers give Yankee a chance. I know the content will win readers over. These pages will be much closer to the heart of New England than what we’ve done in the past few years. For the first time, someone can access our entire issue from a computer, whether they are in Denmark, Maine, or, well, Denmark. If you haven’t actually held the winter issue of Yankee, scroll down through our contents on this site and you’ll see what I mean about New England filling the pages. The convenience of the web site is wonderful, but for me nothing can replace the feeling of an evening in a warm house, a day’s work done, and opening the pages of a new magazine. A friend, the gifted writer Howard Mansfield, told me not long ago that opening a magazine was like sitting at a sidewalk cafe in a new city, taking pleasure in just watching the faces walk by, each one holding a story.
Because Yankee works a few months ahead, our March/April issue is just about done. Here is what you will find: Edie Clark’s “Mary’s Farm” takes a humorous look at a special aspect of small town life; I write about a family farm that refused to die even when fate seemed against it; the famed children’s book writer and illustrator Jan Brett opens her home to Yankee readers; and I doubt there will be a dry eye from anyone who follows Thom Rock’s search for a woman he has not seen for over 40 years.
We’ve listened to our readers. We’re already tweaking this and that to make our pages more readable. We’re sprucing up “Datebook,” we’re making our captions easier to read, and well, tinkering with this or that. That’s what makes magazines fun — they are always a work in progress, each issue destined for its own unique place in a reader’s life.
Now for your e-mails and messages to Yankee, with some commentary from me.
I cancelled my subscription the last time you changed formats when you got rid of all the things that made Yankee great. If you’ve done away with the house plans and brought back some of the features from the old Yankee, I might want to read it again.
— Terence K.
Ed: One of the first items of business for me when I became editor was to go to Yankee‘s “moseyer,” whose “House for Sale” was always Yankee’s most popular feature, and cajole him to return. He likes to keep a low profile, hence he does not want a byline, but you’ll recognize his unique style and insights immediately. You’ll also see a return of a great local cook, a feature that disappeared from our pages awhile back. We call it “Best Cook in Town” and we’re counting on Yankee’s readers to inundate us with suggestions.
My wife tells me you’re changing to a big-size format. I’m just as surprised as I am skeptical. You think we old, stuck-in-our-ways Yankees will stand for such a thing? I can’t wait to see it.
— Dave D.
Where, oh Where has Yankee Magazine Gone,
Oh Where, oh Where could it be?
The Wonderful Magazine that
Was So Very Special to me?
From The Shiny Cover
to the Treasures Deep inside
To Taste of Life in New England
Use to give me such pride
The Wonderful Magazine That
I So Loved, Again I’ll Never See
Because Someone at Yankee
Couldn’t Let An Unspoiled Treasure Be!!!
The “NEW” Look as they Call it
Is Such a Bore
That as soon as I started to read it
I felt myself starting to snore
Since You’ve Taken A National Treasure Away,
I Know Just What I’ll Do
When My Subscription Has ended,
I WILL NOT RENEW!!!
Used to be Faithful Reader,
— Carol S.
Ed: So I wrote Carol. Anyone who takes the time to compose a poetic lament is someone I want to know. And she admitted she had not actually read the stories yet. Later that evening she wrote back. She liked the stories. She’ll stay with us. And we’ll stay with her.
I just read in the Conway Daily that you are planning on changing your magazine to a bigger one. Please don’t change it. I love the way it is now. Everything in this world seems to get changed in one way or another. The heck with what the others in business do. Your Yankee is just like old-fashioned Ivory Soap…You know what I mean?
— Evelyn P.
Hate the new format! I would rather have 12 small issues than 6 big ones! The small issue makes Yankee unique…and put Mary’s Farm at the end where it’s supposed to be!
— Ann and Dale M.
I am saddened to hear that you are changing the size of the magazine. That was always part of the charm of the traditional New England magazine. It had withstood the “times” and held fast to the format.
— Sarah G.
I have lived in New Hampshire most of my life and the Yankee magazine has been a part of my life for ages. The majority of people in NH are just plain folk with interesting stories to tell. I pay a lot of money for it, and come home and read it in an hour. A larger magazine isn’t going to make me buy it, but some interesting articles will.
— Jan V.
Well, I was bowled over with the January/February 2007 issue. It’s a work of art. I can’t say enough. I look forward to curling up in front of the fireplace, warm drink in one hand and my Yankee magazine in the other to read it cover to cover.
— Diane M.
I do wish you were keeping the original size of the magazine, as it was convenient to read and just put in my bag whenever I wanted to take reading material with me.
— Joan B.
Ed: Boy, did I hear this from the women callers over the past few days. Our smaller size fit perfectly into pocketbooks, so handy for taking to the beauty parlor, or to the auto mechanic, or an appointment. I wish I had a clever reply. I truly feel the quality of the pages and its look will compensate for that touch of convenience.
I love the new format of the first issue of 2007! It arrived in my mailbox today and I sat tonight and read it from cover to cover. It was such a pleasure to be able to read an entire article on one page…or at least consecutive pages. I am just delighted with the changes you have made. The hardest part now is waiting two months for the next issue. Keep up the good work!
— Janey C.
Ed: Hopefully this weekly column and the new features on this web site will tide you over a bit. A surprising number of people have let me know that they feel a bit of relief that they can take more time with each Yankee since it’s bimonthly.