Time Runs Out for Another Institution
What happened to Time Life is similar to the problems that plagued Montgomery Ward, Oldsmobile, Life magazine, Woolworth's and so many others of yesterday's giants: They didn't change with the times. Stuever wrote that the Time Life division was "frozen in a '60s notion of the vast [Henry] Luce publishing empire." Even with Internet access, employees traveled back and forth to the Library of Congress to do their research. "Time Life Books was out of sync with the modern world. Instant gratification can be had through Google and Amazon. ... Grade-school reports have never looked better. We all know this isn't the same, not like those satisfying hours spent paging through the books, finding out stuff you weren't even trying to look up in the first place."
Did Time Life outlive its usefulness? Were children and adults alike no longer fascinated with tales of the Bermuda Triangle and Wild West gunslingers? Or did they no longer need to learn how to tile a kitchen floor or build a deck? Perhaps. But there's yet another marketing lesson to be learned here: If Time Life had worked harder to repackage its content and dumb down its topics, it could still be alive and well, battling those seemingly endless yellow "Dummies" and "Idiot's Guide" books for the No. 1 slot of the how-to world.