Archive for October 30th, 2008

I’m not talking about MC ‘cuts’, but the motorcycle publishing business.  On newspapers, the news has gone from bad to worse. It looks like 2008 will be the worst on record with a double-digit drop in advertising revenue and heightens the survival debate of papers. Then add magazines to the list of things us consumers are passing up due to rising costs. Based on the Audit Bureau of Circulation (ABC) sales of U.S. magazines have dipped 6.3 percent.

Readership declines have waterfall to the once vibrant Biker publishing business and subscribers are disappearing.  Motorcycle sales are down so, it’s no surprise that motorcycle magazine sales are down too. Of the Harley rags, the only one that seems to be holding up is American Iron – down 5.9% in sales. Others seem to be getting smoked. Hot Bike down 13.9% EasyRiders down 18.2% and V-Twin down 24.9%!

Even the blogosphere, once an oasis of folksy self-expression and clever thought, has been flooded by a tsunami of SPAM and affiliate bilge which is “gumming up the system” and we’re seeing people shut down sites.  Troll sites doing wholesale content rip off via RSS feeds without attribution and underground ad marketing campaigns are beginning to drown out many of the authentic voices of amateur wordsmiths.

Some examples are, Biker Alley an 8-year-old bi-monthly magazine suddenly stop publishing and Rain Nietzhold (publisher) issues a statement in a letter to her subscribers…HERE.  Then there is France-based Mike Werner of Motorbike.org who informed his readers that a writing contract was suspended with an English language motorcycle magazine (economic downturn is to blame) and he is hawking his skills as a freelance writer/photographer for magazines, blogs or research organizations… HERE.  I received a notice that Motorcycle Blogger International, initially set up to be a motorcycle industry blog award program has now decided to pull the plug.  In the commercial publishing arena Joe Teresi announced that John Lagana would succeed him as Publisher and CEO of Paisano Publications, LLC. Joe is retiring from the day to day business to pursue more leisurely interests.  Must be nice!  Paisano is the publisher of Easyriders, V-Twin, Biker, In The Wind, Tattoo, Tattoo Flash, Tattoo Savage, RebelRodz and Amusin’ Kruisin’ magazines and industry newspaper V-Twin News.  There is a lot of thrash in the publishing industry and some debate about how “massaging” subscription numbers has set up a correction (downward) or consolidation.

The primary long-term threat to magazines is the Internet siphoning away ad revenue, a trend that has been under way for awhile, but has picked up speed. Advertisers have more choices online than in print so only a fraction of the advertising that goes digital ever makes into print.  For those publishers who augmented their print business with online elements seem to draw thousands of new readers.  One of the business models that is complimentary and in my viewpoint on a positive track is – the Official Blog of IronWorks magazine.

While no one magazine or blog will cover all aspects of motorcycling, I do like the complimentary blog/print publishing model.  It provides the ability of  insider breaking news and a certain freshness that has been lacking in traditional print magazine.

Full disclosure – I don’t ghost write or work for IronWorks or Paisano Publications.

Photo courtesy of Flickr.

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