November '19

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NOVEMBER 2019 THE SHOP 115 communication, giving people instant access to news from around the world, 24/7. Why wait for a monthly magazine to publish a race report when you can search it and get not only the results but also the highlights, the backstory, driver profiles and a video all at your fingertips within seconds of the finish? It's staggering. So why, then, do magazines survive at all? Why don't we all, including me, just get our info from the internet? There's no doubt that magazines have struggled. They have become physically smaller. For example, in its heyday HOT ROD measured 8-1/2-by-11 inches and the July 1989 issue—the biggest-selling issue ever—contained 152 pages. On the cover was Billy F. Gibbons' CadZZilla, shot from the back by Randy Lorentzen—it was not your typical red car cover. That issue sold approximately 500,000 copies at the newsstand, plus close to 1 million copies via subscription. The next biggest-selling issue of HOT ROD was the infamous and controversial Swimsuit issue of April 1987 that sold nearly as well. According to the cover blurb, the January 1998 issue was Our Biggest Issue Ever with a foldout cover and 226 pages. So, what happened? Back in the sixties, HOT ROD carried the tag line Everybody's Automotive Magazine and then changed to World's Largest Auto- motive Magazine. And it probably was. However, consumers demanded more spe- cific coverage and less about other, unre- lated subjects. Consequently, the publishers inevitably niched it down to the common denominator: Mustang-specific magazines, Chevy titles galore, off-road mags, VW mags and so on. If you were into 'Vettes, it stands to reason you'd buy a Corvette maga- zine over Road & Track or Car and Driver. This diversification caused readership declines for the big boys and, along with them, a loss of ad dollars. As circulation falls and revenue drops, ad dollars get spread margarine-thin—it's no longer butter. Factor in industry consoli- dation and the advent of electronic media and suddenly you don't have the readership that you used to have. The plethora of titles is also a problem for the non-specialty retailers such as super- markets, airports, etc. Shelf space is limited to the top-selling titles and, in many cases, that shelf space has to be purchased. The squeeze is on. CHANGING MARKETS In a way, we're all to blame. We can't deny that our attention spans have shrunk along with the size of magazines—HOT ROD now measures 7-3/4-by-10-1/2-inches and it's 98 pages. They say that a picture is worth 1,000 words and I agree that a photo with a good caption is all that most people want. How- ever, a photo and a caption is all you can get from a printed magazine, while electronic The 3,500-square- foot, two-story Magazine Heaven contains more than 2,000 titles on the ground floor and hosts an artisan café upstairs.

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