Jan 23, 2006 at 6:40 pm #1217597
Forgive me if I missed an important post on this somewhere. I just clicked on the excellent Scotland article, and realized that I have to shell out additional money for the print edition if I want to read the whole thing. Doesn’t it seem a little tough on loyal subscribers to make us subscribe twice if we want to read all the content?
Noticed that the “print vs. online” comparison notes “no overlap in editorial content.” While that may technically be true in the Scotland case, it seems like splitting hairs. We gotta subscribe to one to see the pictures, the other to read the account?
I believe BPL provides a valuable service/product, and feel like my online subscription is money well spent. I certainly believe people should be paid for the work they do. But, this feels a little like we’re being led by the nose here…
Struggled a bit with the subject line, don’t mean disrespect to Jordan et al, but am concerned, and wonder what the community’s opinions are.Jan 24, 2006 at 10:06 am #1349188
It seems that this might be a sensitive topic to touch, but I agree with you, John. I, too, was turned off by the “teaser” of the Scotland article, and felt vaguely mislead after reaching the conclusion and realizing that I could read no further unless I got the print magazine. I really want to know what Chris Townsend had to say about his gear and his trips in Scotland, but I have no inclination towards purchasing the print magazine. Now I will never know what the conclusion of the article is.
I feel that as a paying subscriber here I should be able to read any article that appears here to its conclusion without having to pay yet again for the “privilege” of reading yet another magazine. If the BPL staff feels that an article should only appear in the print version of the magazine, then provide a reference here to the article, but don’t just give us a “preview”. The online BPL magazine shouldn’t act as merely a showcase for the print version. I didn’t subscribe to this magazine to pay for advertising of the other magazine.
BPL has been a wonderful daily read for me, with a lot of information that has helped my whole hiking style evolve. I’ve come across products, ideas, and people that otherwise I might never have learned about. The discussion boards have brought me in touch with quite a few like-minded people with whom I can share my passion for walking and making the best of my skills. But I’m not paying for the discussion boards per se; I can find that easily elsewhere.
I joined BPL after reading one of the early articles about Bill Merchant. It’s what I expect of the magazine, still. I don’t expect to read only gear evaluations, but a good range of articles about techniques, travel accounts, and profiles, too. And I don’t feel that I should have to only get a taste of these articles or to pay extra to finish reading the articles.
My 2¥’s worth (that’s less than 2 cents mind you!).Jan 24, 2006 at 10:21 am #1349189
I agree with both of you. Perhaps I’m confused, but didn’t the print magazine and online versions once have the same stuff? Seems like when I was not a member a couple of years ago and would peruse this site, the membership basically offered hard-copy versus electronic versions of the same thing (but perhaps I misunderstood).
It does seem a bit too much like advertising for the print mag to show pictures with no text. And I’m sure if anyone subscribes only to the print version, they must be irked not to get the pictures.Jan 24, 2006 at 3:08 pm #1349207
I felt like the Townsend pic’s were posted here b/c the print versions are b/w and they are MUCH nicer in color. It may have been a tease, but I didn’t feel that way, but I subscribe to both the print and online versions. I think both are still being tweaked and developing their own personalities.
BPL/BMW advertises all kind of stuff on this site the doesn’t come with the online membership (Cocoon, titanium spoons, books, DVD’s, etc.) I don’t have a problem with that. It’s good stuff!Jan 25, 2006 at 7:07 am #1349234
I didn’t realize they had different content. I thought it was just a difference in media.
I don’t like it either. Not good.Jan 25, 2006 at 7:33 am #1349236
@scottalanpLocale: Northern California
It does seem that the primary focus of the online content is all about gear. And the gear knowledge is great. But I am interested in seeing more about technique “in action”.
I would love to see if that content will be in the print mag., but I have been waiting for the Dec. issue I paid for in Nov….and it is getting close to Feb.Jan 30, 2006 at 1:50 pm #1349577
I sent a request for a response to this via the support feature, will keep you all posted if I hear anything.Feb 2, 2006 at 5:49 pm #1349781
Any response yet?
My paid membership here is about to expire and Im curious to know whats going on to help me decide what to do.Feb 2, 2006 at 6:34 pm #1349785
I don’t see what the big deal is. They are different services. Each one is priced fairly on its own.Feb 2, 2006 at 7:52 pm #1349791
The big deal is that if the online subscription degenerates to a purely or almost purely review site, then some people might not want to continue subscribing to the online version and instead choose to subscribe only to the print version.Feb 2, 2006 at 9:07 pm #1349795
Yes, that was what I was thinking. While the reviews are important to me and I learn a lot about new gear that I might want to try, that is not my main reason for subscribing to the online version two years ago. If reviews had been the original main focus of the online version as it seems to be now, I would never have subscribed.
The print version comes out too seldom and, due to its print nature, is neither timely enough, nor interactive. It is also quite a lot more expensive for an international subscription, not to mention the whole issue of environmental impact of using paper and air freight. I get a discount on the print version if I am a member of the online version, but subscribing to the non-online member print version is both more expensive and I get no discounts on BPL gear.
I don’t really know where BPL online is headed. In the two and half years that I’ve been reading it (took me a while to decide to become a member) there has been quite a shift in focus. It seems almost all of the knowledge of UL techniques and such come from the forums now (and, I take it, in the print version), rather than from BPL itself. I don’t even know why a print version is necessary. It seems the online version was a lot richer and more focused before the print version was introduced. Now there are two versions. Why? Is it because the BPL staff wants the more populous online version to be purely a money-generating venture? Fair enough, that is their perrogative. But count me out as a subscriber then.Feb 2, 2006 at 9:49 pm #1349802
“it seems almost all of the knowledge of UL techniques and such come from the forums now”
Absolutly. Anything of interest on the main site is discussed on the forums, and its hashed out, rehashed, and if the topic is real juicy, the topic is beat until the proverbial dead horse is not just dead, but starting to get a touch putrid…
The forum content is extremely informative, and your not going to find it elsewhere… but I will say right here and now that the software quality of the forum is quite lacking, and that effects the user experience, and if BPL has any plans on making forum access “members only”… well, Im not sure the forums are reason enough to maintain membership here.
“It seems the online version was a lot richer and more focused before the print version was introduced.”
True again… Were BPL what it is today, I wouldnt have subscribed. Now, the content of BPL is getting to be more and more “softball” and as I said, the good stuff is now all in the forum.
“subscribing to the non-online member print version… [means] I get no discounts on BPL gear.”
I dont buy much of anything online anymore. I make what I can, and what I cant make, I try to find locally first. If I dont find it locally, Ill CONSIDER buying online but more and more I keep asking myself “If nobody has it locally, do I NEED it THAT bad????” Im not an uber-super-hyper-mega-light backpacker, and so I dont need the really specialist gear. Long story short, I didnt sign up or the discount. Truth be told, I havent bought ANYTHING from the BPL store…. of course that has as much to do with availablity of products as much as anything else.
“not to mention the whole issue of environmental impact of using paper and air freight”
even though we are talking a minor impact, all things considered, I do whatever I can to reduce paper coming into my house. I thought BPL Online was great because there was a ton of information, and no waste. Kinda like gutenberg.org, but for backpacking. Now I find out that the good stuff is only available in print? Bummer.
So, anyway, I wanna know whats going on with BLP Print, BPL Online, and maybe a hint at whats going to happen with the forums, so I can decide where my $$$ is gonna go.Feb 4, 2006 at 9:56 am #1349888
A customer service person replied that she was forwarding my query to Ryan Jordan. No further response to date.Feb 4, 2006 at 10:13 am #1349891
Unfortunatly, the lack of response is starting to speak for itself.Feb 4, 2006 at 4:39 pm #1349918
@cmcrookerLocale: Desert Southwest, USA
We’ve been following this forum, but prep for OR, OR itself, and catching back up after OR takes some attention. I’ll answer more fully shortly, but in the meantime, one of BPL’s tenets is to build a community of passionate backcountry enthusiasts. That’s our goal with the two magazines (online and print).
CarolFeb 4, 2006 at 9:23 pm #1349927
RavenUL: “it seems almost all of the knowledge of UL techniques and such come from the forums now Anything of interest on the main site is discussed on the forums, and its hashed out, rehashed, and if the topic is real juicy, the topic is beat until the proverbial dead horse is not just dead, but starting to get a touch putrid…”
butuki : “I don’t expect to read only gear evaluations, but a good range of articles about techniques, travel accounts, and profiles, too. If reviews had been the original main focus of the online version as it seems to be now, I would never have subscribed.”
I too have found myself contemplating whether to re-subscribe to Backpacking Light or move on. Perhaps this site should be more appropriately re-named Backpacking Light Gear… I ‘m not saying I haven’t picked up a few pointers on the latest hardware, and it’s not the $$ for the online subscription but more so the ubber blowhards beating the proverbial dead horse concerning gear or even worse the re-inventing of gear. What happened to the “Backpacking?” In Backpacking Light? So many times I’ve started off excited to read the articles from BPL Reviewers knowing how they would visit some of my favorite trails and national parks yet (with few exceptions Ryan’s Yellowstone / Beartooths Trip) they might as well stayed home with their gram scale, camped in their backyard. Am I missing something? Is it truly all about the gear? I’m beginning to believe this site has lost the trail and needs to back track. Personally I would like to see more articles about actual techniques, travel accounts, and interviews with the likes of Andrew Skurka, Brian Robinson, Colin Fletcher and even those in the industry Glen (Gossamer Gear), Brian (ULA), Ray Jardine (Ray Way), Henry (Tarp Tent).
Thank you for allowing me to let off some steamFeb 4, 2006 at 10:04 pm #1349929
I think it is difficult to express any feelings or opinions of doubt about BPL in part because it has been such a friendly and informative site. I visit here every day, something I do with very few other sites. I’ve come to respect and like quite a number of people here and I certainly don’t want to create any bad vibes with any one. However, I’m also paying for this site and that is where the dissatisfaction comes in. I originally came to BPL for th same reasons that Roger seems to seek, but lately haven’t really found much on that I originally liked so much about BPL.
I hesitated a long while before posting my opinion on this because I know that it must make many people uncomfortable. I find myself voicing this disassitisfaction and it comes with an unsavory aftertaste. But if I don’t say something then maybe no one else will speak up either. Perhaps my opinion is wrong, misinformed, or contentious, but for all that, I really want the best from BPL.Feb 6, 2006 at 6:12 am #1349974
I’m the managing editor of the print mag. Your insights are being heard and carefully considered. Thank you for your feedback.
Everyone here at BPL wants to put together a balanced, engaging publication that meets the needs of core users and also reaches beginners out there beyond our pages. We are constantly refining that balance and, like gear, we experiment with different strategies to find the best solution. The Scotland overflow content was one of those strategies to provide a home for important content that wouldn’t fit in the current issue. Your feedback in this forum is helping us to revisit that strategy and fine tune it.
But I also would love to hear your stories and ideas that we may be able to publish. Do you have interesting trip reports, destination profiles, access to people who are making a difference in the sport, noteworthy photos, tasty recipes, and insightful UL feature? You have the opportunity to help shape this publication and broaden its reach. We need more freelance writers and photographers who know their craft.
Please post your article concepts. If there’s interest, I’ll start a new thread to expand the ideas further.
Stay warm!Feb 6, 2006 at 2:50 pm #1350014
Here’s Ryan Jordan’s response to my customer service inquiry. I’m posting it in the interest of presenting both sides, and because I don’t think there’s anything particularly personal or confidential in it.
I’m back in the office after a break following Outdoor Retailer, hence the delay in responding. Thanks for your patience.
Our goal is this: we don’t want to duplicate content between print and online. We are striving to achieve individual identities for both products. I think we’ve improved since Issue 1, but we have a ways to go, for sure.
As for paying twice for content, specifically regarding the Chris Townsend article, the decision came down to this. We simply didn’t have enough page count available in the print magazine to publish Chris’s entire submission. We felt that the gear list and photo essay were valuable enough to make available in some format, so we decided to put it online rather than not publish it at all.
We are still in the throes of trying to figure this out. Please stick with us and provide your feedback, so WE know what YOU want as readers. That is so important to us.
PublisherFeb 6, 2006 at 2:54 pm #1350015
I really second Roger’s thoughts, couldn’t have said it better.Feb 6, 2006 at 3:52 pm #1350023
@scottalanpLocale: Northern California
Having recently read through Backpacker Mag’s annual gear review, it is easy to see that the light weight message is really continuing to permeate the more-mass media outlets. Andrew Skurka is on one of the first pages as are all of his sponsorships that definitely lean to the lightweight world. They also included a small quarter page blurb on how to go about lightening up gear under each of the major gear sections. All in all though, they still fall back into the “sexy equipment” pitfall that seems to get the sports mainstay (young men) pumped up. And while they suggest that you cut some straps off your backpack to lose some weight (marginal at best) they still classify some equipment as lightweight without even offering up the idea that a tarp might be the best way to lose a few POUNDS in the summer months!!! The reason I point all this out is that while Backpacker (succesful ?) publication offers up pretty indepth gear reviews and innovations…it is not about that alone.
I have to admit that good photographs and personal stories written in a stylistic fashion keep my mind interested about the possibilities of my own future trek’s and outings.
That is not to say that I want or expect BPL to do a piece about camping at some rock festival, ala Backpacker…which really shows a lack of imagination on their part from my perspective…but to give us some great shots of places less traveled…or off trail adventures…or ultra light fishing tips. Keep it simple, relevant, and maybe think up some regular columns to engage the light-weight photog, or light weight anglar, or light weight rock climber….or backpacking light on a budget. For example, my buddy asked if he should get the nearly $300 bivy that Bozeman makes, after I got him a subscription to the print BPL for Christmas. I said hell no! Why on earth does someone who goes out mainly in the summer, 3 times a year need to save 2 or 3 ounces over a silnylon bivy by dropping an extra $200? This is the kind of guidance BPL should be giving. Help connect the dots for ever experience level.
Maybe even attempt to increase the involvement of the extremely intelligent and informed members of this forum with surveys to see what matters to the majority. After spending some time here for the last several months…I often wonder what some of the other folks, whose opinion in the area of gear and technique I highly value, think of things that are only marginally relevant to backpacking. Watching Grizzly Man this weekend, I could not help but think what some of the members here would have thought about a guy who seemed to use all the wrong equipment techniques for camping in Alaska (giant plastic tarp layed over his dome tent…can’t imagine the condensation!!!) but really did not fail over the course of 13 years because of this. I never post on these kinds of topics out of respect for the general forum that seems to shun such triviality. Maybe it’s time to inject a little more fun around here???
The short of it is, take a page out of Backpackers mag in terms of engaging the reader, before they catch on and build the nitch themselves???Feb 6, 2006 at 5:03 pm #1350027
@garkjrLocale: Southwestern Ohio
Reading all of the foregoing comments, I’m struck by the thought that perhaps the marketing model isn’t quite in sync with the reader base anymore.
When I first subscribed, a couple of years ago, there was no print subscription. The website membership was sold on the basis of two levels: basic content and premium content (sounds like cable TV, no?) Then the print magazine came out, and there were now two premium content items: electronic and print. The basic content then seemed to degrade, much like no one has basic cable anymore.
Perhaps you need to change the model: offer a single subscription, combining the print and electronic versions, at a price somewhere around 1/2 to 2/3 the cost of the combined subscription price now. Do you lose revenue from those who now subscribe to both? Sure – but you pick up revenue from those who currently subscribe only to one. My guess is that you may actually increase both revenue and subscriber satisfaction. More importantly, you gain a seamless interface (cool use of computer lingo, eh?) between the print and electronic media – and the overflow from Chris Townsend’s always-excellent writing now becomes an advantage, rather than a sticking point.
However, two things must absolutely happen if the print version is to remain viable:
1) You MUST meet the quarterly publication schedules. I didn’t check the exact dates, but I’m guessing that we’re at least 10 months into it, and there have been only two issues delivered – both well past the promised delivery dates. I realize it does take time to work out all the bugs, but you should be getting close. I understand that we’ll still get all 4 issues we purchased, but if you are actually able to publish only a semi-annual magazine, be honest about it and call it a two-year subscription.
2) You can’t let the magazine turn into just another one-size-fits-all-outdoor-sports, eco-tourist trekking grab bag like Backpacker. I have to admit the selection of articles in the most recent issue was a letdown. I don’t paddle, I don’t adventure-race, and I’m still not clear what the gee-whiz article on aboriginal walkabouts had to do with ultralight backpacking. (That could have been the extra page-count for the Townsend article.) I’m also not likely to backpack anywhere other than the USA, though I don’t object to articles about other countries – if they stick to backpacking, and not “trekking/touring.” I read the first two issues of BPL cover-to-cover. I kind of thumbed through the current issue, and only really read about a third of it. (A year of doing that convinced me to terminate my Backpacker subscription in favor of a BPL subscription.)
I really like the website, and the magazine has potential if it’s not allowed to deteriorate to just another pretty-pictures thing. (You can’t compete with National Geographic in that department – don’t try.) I absolutely intend to renew my subscriptions to both, but I do see some problems that, I’m sure, Ryan et.al. will overcome.Feb 6, 2006 at 5:19 pm #1350029
@pjLocale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Glenn, Some astute comments. Good post.
I think, perhaps, BPL is going through some growing pains. For me, the good outweighs the not-quite-as-good. Even when all of the bugs are worked out, we’ll all still be left with “You can please some of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time”. I think that is reality in virtually every situation. Doesn’t mean we shouldn’t aim higher, but reality is still reality – the ultimate goal may never be realized (viz. pleasing everyone all of the time). I try to keep in mind that BPL is writing to a segment unified by some key concepts (L/UL Backpacking), but within which still remains great diversity of interests. They don’t publish, either on-line or in print, just for me. Nor should they.Feb 6, 2006 at 6:17 pm #1350034
Interesting Point Scott,
I gave up my subscription to Backpacker Magazine 6-7 years ago mainly because I became tired of reading of mainstream equipment. Backpacker Magazine wasn’t evolving it was becoming stagnate, a catalog for mainstream gear for mainstream backpacking (sorry mainstream backpackers no offense). I soon found other sources for information like The UltraLight Backpacker / Ryel Kestenbaum and Beyond Backpacking / Ray Jardine and a then among the REI’s and Sports Chalets I discovered a little shop called Gordon’s Happy Trails in Fullerton, California. Gordon had the latest and greatest gear like Western Mountaineering and MSR there was sub-species of backpackers that was growing we would meet and exchange information, trading off skills sewing, electronics, metal work, Gordon was modifying alcohol stoves and playing with LED’s years before I found this website. Speaking of websites that became the Holy Grail for the distribution of UltraLight information sites were popping up everyday and a then little over a year ago I found Backpacking Light and subscribed. But regrettably to me BPL had been a very lean diet of UltraLight Gear. I’ve missed reading articles regarding different aspects of the sport. To make this long story short I’ve re-subscribed to Backpacking Magazine and have noticed the past couple issues have reflected a change in both the direction the magazine has been taking and the resolve to bring back readers. Granted there will always be someone selling an expedition size 8lbs packs but if you look closer you’ll see some familiar names Six Moon Designs, Tarp tent, GoLite, Integral Designs, Oware, Sea to Summit, Montrail, ULA as well as articles on UltraLight techniques, Cooking and Recipes, Current Politics and our Nation Forest, New Backpacking Trails, Techniques and Skills. I guess mainstream was bound to evolve and eventually catch up. The question I have for Backpacker Light is it going to continue its course and become a 24/7 Backpacker Gear Guide? I hoping not, I just re-subscribed to this site for another 12 months.
RegardsFeb 6, 2006 at 6:47 pm #1350040
Despite all the informative responses by the staff, there’s one big question that remains unanswered —
That is, is the online BPL going to only have reviews and the paper BPL contains all the techniques and features?
I’m very interested in the answer to this question, and as indicated by the previous posts, other people are as well.
From the answer given by Ryan “Our goal is this: we don’t want to duplicate content between print and online.”, and from the content of both the online and print versions of BPL, I suspect the answer is “Yes, BPL online is only going to do reviews”, but I’d like to get confirmation from the staff.
Sadly, I didn’t subscribe to this site just for reviews and I don’t want to pay money for paper copies of a black and white magazine with ok quality photographs. If the photographs were of a very high quality, like those in Alpinist, a paper copy definitely makes sense.
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