Vicissitudes of publishing4th July 2020
For many, 2020 will be recalled as being very testing whatever their endeavour. Thankfully, my own line of work continues throughout the turmoil but others are not so lucky and the world of magazine publishing is just as affected. Even without an ongoing global pandemic, market conditions for the publishing of paper magazines are challenging anyway even if many have embraced electronic delivery.
The effects of all the change are more evident in photography and other activities affect by rapid changes in technology. Looking at computer magazines, numerous titles have disappeared from what once were loading newsagent shelves during their heyday in the 1990’s. Even long-standing ones like PC Plus were not immune nor were others like PC World, PC Answers, PC Format, Linux User & Developer, Web Designer and Net. As personal computing became more mainstream and mobile devices became more powerful, the preceding interest waned and anything that remained often went online for technology news.
Of course, this is not a technology blog but photography is closer to the interest in outdoor activity. Here, there also was a surfeit of titles but some have gone. Photography Monthly and Advanced Photography are among these but most remain, perhaps due to digitisation of photographic capture and other innovations. Photography also is a subjective practice so it is easy to concentrate on camera performance when it is the combination of composition and exposure mastery that really matters.
Maybe that is why Outdoor Photography remains the only such title that I read. It focusses on technique, experiences and results so the content feels more substantial to me and I enjoyed clearing my backlog of unread issues throughout April and May. Its publishing scheduled has been buffeted by the ongoing pandemic to the extent that it virtually became bimonthly instead of monthly. A lockdown cannot help when it comes to getting new photographic content and the economic impact also diminishes advertising revenue.
Outdoor and travel magazines are similarly afflicted. For instance, Backpacker skipped an issue (July/August) because of the falloff of advertising revenue while the team focussed on creating useful email newsletters and content like How to Hike During COVID. Its content may be American in focus but there remains some commonality for elsewhere too and I look forward to seeing what is in the next issue of their magazine.
Another title that has had its publishing schedule altered is Wanderlust. Admittedly, thoughts of overseas travel are something that many are putting on hold and I count myself among them. Maybe that is why the current issue of the magazine focusses on Britain itself and that follows surveys that they did. It could be that I am not the only one thinking of a staycation this year.
Even though there is a chance of flights to some destinations becoming more realistic, my own sights are set closer to home for the moment. A backlog of unread issues of Ireland of the Welcomes is being reduced at the moment and there are there are unread copies of Scottish Islands Explorer to follow those. Reading will be plentiful for a while yet. There are other possibilities like the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man but getting to any of these remains restricted for now.
Despite all of this, one still can dream about heading further afield. Giving the way that things are at the moment, it is better to be patient. That will allow one to see if Lonely Planet Magazine returns to news-stands as well as gaining greater experience in very changed circumstances. We already have learned much and there is more to add to our knowledge and experience. Given the risks, it is better to be vigilant and careful since we need a sustainable return to some sort of normality that will persist. That also is better for anyone adversely effected since there is nothing worse than a regression.