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Creating Keepsakes Publishes First Bimonthly Issue

Most subscribers now have in their hands the first bimonthly issue, March/April, published on Creating Keepsakes’ new 8 issue schedule for 2010.

For subscribers who purchased their subscriptions expecting to get 12 issues in a year, this issue counts as 2 of the remaining issues they expected on their subscription since Creating Keepsakes customer service is on record saying they won’t extend subscription expiration dates with the reduction in annual issues.

So, what did readers get?

First, let’s look at the most obvious feature – length. The March/April bimonthly issue is 122 pages long, exactly the same length as the February issue.

But an examination of the advertising content in the two issues shows what could be a critical difference. The February issue contained almost 22% advertising content. The March/April issue contained under 18% advertising content. This is great news for readers – they got about 5 more pages of editorial content in the March/April issue – but financially for the magazine, it means they had 5 fewer pages of ad income. Given that 22% isn’t a healthy ad percentage for a magazine, a drop to 18% is definitely a trend in the wrong direction. (For comparison, most of the recent scrapbook magazines that have shut down were closed when they were consistently reaching only 15% advertising in their issues.)

Moving past the numbers, looking at the content is more positive. The quality of the editorial content has been steadily improving. They’ve dealt well with losing several headline columnists and have greatly refreshed the look of certain sections. The March/April issue is the best the magazine has done in a long time. Hopefully we’ll get to see more of that.

Judging from the comments on the Creating Keepsakes Facebook page, the new production schedule is a hard sell with subscribers. Many of the comments about the change addressed to the company via Facebook are complaints from subscribers who feel they are being shorted issues on their subscriptions by the change. Many are threatening to not renew their subscriptions when they expire, although none appear to be outright canceling immediately. Creating Keepsake’s representative on Facebook have repeatedly referred questions about subscription extensions to the customer service department. They’ve also blamed the poor economy and slow ad sales for the reduced production schedule and the length of the bimonthly issue.

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9 Responses to Creating Keepsakes Publishes First Bimonthly Issue

  1. Vicki Flinchum April 1, 2010 at 8:30 am #

    I hope CK can appease those customers that feel cheated by their switch to bi-monthly with no change in subscription lengths. CK appears to be doing everything it can to stay a viable magazine. But it’s failure to address customer issues could be a fatal mistake. Let’s hope they do the right thing!

  2. Holly Denghel April 1, 2010 at 9:52 am #

    Their failure to address the customer service issue WAS a fatal mistake with me. They’ve done several things I consider to be less than ethical, and this was the last one. Instead of not renewing, I cancelled my subscription. I feel that CK is essentially breaking their contract with me. I gave them the option to extend my subscription for the full number of issues. When they refused, i cancelled.

    This is the email thread I had with their customer service department. As you can see, they say that they will have 4 monthly issues and 4 double issues with “more valuable content than what would have been included in one of our previous single issues”. I don’t consider 5 pages enough to constitute a double issue!!

    * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
    (My original email)
    I recently heard that CK is reducing the number of issues per year from 12 down to 8. However, I’ve also been made aware that CK is considering existing subscriptions as per-year instead of per-issue. My account statement on your webpage says:

    Our records show that your last order was placed on Jun. 30, 2008 for 22 issues.
    Your expiration date is JUL/AUG 10 and your balance due is $.00.

    When I purchased the renewal in June 2008, it was for 24 issues. I would like one of two things:
    1. Either extend my subscription so that I get all 24 issues (regardless of single or double months) that I paid for
    or
    2. Cancel my subscription and send me a refund for the balance.

    * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
    (reply from CK)
    As part of our new redesign, we will be publishing less issues. With each issue, though, you will receive more valuable content than what would have been included in one of our previous single issues. We will now honor the subscription time period for which you have paid. The expiration date on the account will thus remain the same.

    CREATING KEEPSAKES will now publish 4 monthly issues and 4 double issues annually as follows: January, Februry, March/April, May/June, July/August, September, October and November/December. They will cover a one year term.

    Please advise how you choose to proceed.

    We value you as a subscriber, thank you for your interest in CREATING KEEPSAKES.

    * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
    (my reply to CK)
    While I understand the logic you present, I still do not agree with it as a business practice. 20 months ago, I renewed for a 24 issue subscription. I will now only receive 22 issues. You are changing the terms of the contract without consent. Please cancel my subscription. Thank you.

    * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
    (reply from CK)
    We cancelled your subscription as you requested. Please disregard any future invoices. You may receive one or two more issues. Please keep them with our compliments.

    * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
    (my reply to CK)
    Thank you. I received the March/April issue today. I noted that this month’s double issue had only 1 page more than the January single issue, which wasn’t any bigger than issues of the previous year when we were receiving 12 issues a year.

    Not only have I cancelled, but I have several friends who are also subscribers and plan to either cancel ot not renew their subscriptions when the time comes. You may wish to pass it up the chain that this policy is not very popular with your customers. People who have paid for a certain number of issues want to receive that number of issues, especially when the number of pages has not changed at all.

    * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
    (reply from CK)
    I apoligize that you were unsatisfied with the changes made. There are four double issues a year to make up for those months now missed. I wrote a client service form with your regards. With warmest regards.

  3. Jackie April 1, 2010 at 12:39 pm #

    I must say I agree with the above commenter. To say that the Mar/Apr issue was improved, well I guess that is a matter of opinion. I thought the cover was absolutely ugly, and the content not much better. I am certainly glad I did not renew when my sub was up, it no longer is a magazine that will be a “must have” for me. I guess it is Better Homes and Gardens Scrapbooking for me.

    My question is this…does anyone at that company care about customers AT ALL!!!???

  4. Vicki April 1, 2010 at 1:32 pm #

    When I received my March/April issue, I expected to see the change in number of annual issues addressed on the Editorial Page but there was no mention of it. I flipped through the rest of the magazine looking for something that informed readers of the change and unless I missed it, it isn’t there. (Forgive me if it is there and I overlooked it.) I find this very disappointing as I feel like they were hoping to fly under the radar w/ it for a while. I doubt I would have noticed that the issue was actually the March/April issue instead of the March issue if it wasn’t for Nancy’s informative columns. I understand the need to make changes in these present economic times but wish they were more upfront about it.
    And in reference to the email exchange that Holly shared – there is no way I would consider the issue to be double in content. I was expecting more when I heard they were combining months and it didn’t live up to my expectations. I’ve been a CK subscriber for years but I am worried this is the beginning of the end of CK magazine.

  5. Jan Scholl April 2, 2010 at 2:29 am #

    My threat isn’t a threat. It’s a truth. I will NOT renew this magazine even if they offered me five years for the price of one. They can blame all they want on the economy, but I know a lot of the anger is from incidents of the past few years. People didn’t get paid for their work, others got ripped off by paying for items then not receiving what they perceived they paid for. I am not a scrapbooker like those who are addicted to it. I don’t adore the name people in the industry. I bought this magazine for the artistic value of it. I loved reading about new products via usage and ads but mostly for card making. There are too many snobs in the scrap booking industry and they all were involved with this magazine at one time or another. Fraud on many levels brought down this magazine. From corporate to the cheaters on contests-they can keep the dead tree. When my subscription runs out, I am done with the company. I won’t even ask for my money back on remaining issues because it won’t be forthcoming. Been there with previous magazines who decided another in their cache was equal exchange. The best craft mags are now the blogs/electronic monthlies other than the one person zines like VSN..

  6. Vicki April 3, 2010 at 9:39 am #

    I too wrote to customer service when I checked on the site to find that they had indeed shortened by subscription. I too got the same customer service response. And then I emailed the editor.. and she quickly lengthened my subscription. I too signed up for a number of issues not a year term (or in my case it was 36 issues).

    I think the major problem here is scrapbookers feel that we are more than customers we are part of a family. And the CK has fostered that over the years making the writers and designers available to the customers through CKU, Conventions, store visits, how to books etc. So to that end we expect a more transparent relationship with the magazine. Scrappers feel that if the magazine would come out and say they were struggling that they could embrace this–rally around this. But when there is no mention in the magazine or on the website they are feeling no love. And the standard customer service response is a slap in the face to women who believed in the CK hype.

  7. Icecat62 April 3, 2010 at 10:14 pm #

    I’m a bit peeved by this as I signed up for a two year subscription at CKC Valley Forge and was told I was getting 24 issues. This is a big mistake by Creating Keepsakes. They’re basically not honoring their contract with all of us.

  8. Jenny April 5, 2010 at 2:20 pm #

    Still waiting for my issue… I was told by their Customer Service to go purchase a copy because they didn’t have any left to send out. Unfortunately I can’t find any in my area… :( I don’t plan on renewing.

  9. Martha April 14, 2010 at 8:58 pm #

    I agree…I will not be renewing CK. Very disappointed that it is not a monthly magazine…and JUST found out, although I’ve been subscribing for quite a while, I’m sure they were “quiet” about it, hoping no one would notice!

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