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Mad about the Land!

The new sensation … is completely unsensational, at least as far as all the new-found enthusiasts for country living are concerned, says Susanne Pleines.

No news is good news – particularly in Landlust, Germany’s bimonthly magazine for lovers of the rural lifestyle. The magazine is one of the great success stories in an otherwise declining print market. Uneventful articles about a romantic horse-drawn carriage ride, carving beautiful buttons out of antlers or maintaining your lawnmower in winter now attract a huge readership of more than one million per issue. That’s twice the circulation of OK! and more than the Radio Times.

It has also spawned a whole tribe of imitators, such as Landidee, Landapotheke, Landfrische, and the special issue Landidee Rübenküche, which is devoted to the recipes and uses of almost-forgotten root vegetables.

But before you jump to conclusions, Landlust’s readers are almost unclassifiable. They don’t hug trees and they don’t all live in large cities, yearning for a simple lifestyle with home brews and knitted socks: according to market research, only 15 percent of all Landlust readers live in towns with more than 100,000 inhabitants. Around 83 percent, however, have their own plot of land and prefer to read about the ins and outs of their local flora and fauna to the love life of Dieter Bohlen (the Simon Cowell of Germany) or of starlet Daniela Katzenberger. Sex no longer sells!

Landlust does not claim to promote anything other than ‘deceleration’, wellbeing and a cosy rural chic that seems to appeal to LOHAS, lovers of Lifestyles Of Health And Sustainability. It is the jewel in the crown for Landwirtschaftsverlag Münster, a small agricultural publisher whose core market used to be mainly dairy, pig and cattle farmers as well as tractor enthusiasts. They must be getting something right! With its successful mix of gardening, cooking, rural living, countryside and nature – no climate change or plight of dairy farmers in sight! – the magazine has long since outpaced Stern, once Germany’s largest weekly news journal. And that, says trend researcher Peter Wittmann “gives us some idea what people in Germany really dream about”.

 

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