- Oct 24, 2008 at 10:52 am #1231707
Backpacking Light to Suspend Print Magazine Production, Will Refocus Energy to Online Content Development
Bozeman, Mont. – October 24, 2008 – Beartooth Media Group, Inc., announced today that it will suspend production of its print magazine (and the Zinio.com digital edition of that print magazine), Backpacking Light. Other operations, including its website, BackpackingLight.com, its book publishing division (“Beartooth Mountain Press”), and the Backpacking Light range of house-branded gear and apparel, will remain business as usual.
Issue 11 will be the final issue mailed to domestic (U.S.) subscribers and issue 10 will be the final issue mailed to international subscribers. All issues remain available for single copy purchase at BackpackingLight.com, and Issues 9-11 will remain available at existing newsstand locations throughout the U.S.
Reasons for discontinuing production of the print magazine include: rising costs, inability to meet production schedules, industry-wide declines in print media advertising and subscription revenues, increasing pressure from subscribers to have a “lightweight” footprint on the environment true to the company's vision, and the desire to refocus the company's energy back to its online media roots.
The company's President and CEO, Ryan Jordan, cites the current economic recession as a major factor in this decision. “Printing, transportation, and fulfillment cost increases over the past few years make publishing a print magazine of our size at an affordable price impossible without advertising,” Jordan said. “Now that advertisers are moving more of their ad dollars online, the ability to produce a high-quality, short run, niche publication requires substantial costs. It's not fair to our long-time customers, including our gear shop and online subscribers, to divert their dollars to unprofitable projects.”
In addition, the company has found it increasingly difficult to reconcile their print magazine footprint with their vision as an industry environmental leader. “We promote sustainability and responsible resource usage,” comments Jordan. “It's hard to do that when retailers and magazine distributors are destroying unsold copies of the magazine, and subscribers are throwing them away.” Jordan continues, “The printing industry is the fourth largest emitter of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. Add to this the the monumental transportation costs required to deliver printed matter from the factory to distributors, retailers, and subscribers, and the combined tax upon energy levels is pretty dramatic. We can't in good conscience be a part of that simply to increase our sales base and to serve the decreasing number of subscribers that demand that their information be delivered in print. The outdoor industry's addiction to paper – magazines, catalogs, hang tags – is completely counterproductive to their long term sustainability. We've made the decision to break away from that herd.”
Jordan states that the complexity of producing a print magazine has also taken its toll on the resources of a company that already produces one of the outdoor industry's largest web sites, manages a book publishing division, and its own brand of outdoor gear and apparel. “The print magazine was an experiment that diverted resources away from our core activities. Now it's time to end the experiment and reinvest our resources into serving and building our core business, and serving those customers that have been such an instrumental part of growing our company. As hard as it is to end the print magazine, it's an exciting time because we have so much to look forward to in the future. Keeping the print magazine afloat has inhibited us from doing some of the other things that we really wanted to do for our customers.” One of those things, cites Jordan, is expanding the depth and diversity of the editorial content published online at BackpackingLight.com.
Subscribers holding unfulfilled subscriptions will not be left in the dark. “We are committed to making sure that every subscriber to the print magazine will be taken care of,” says Karen Wilson, Backpacking Light's Customer Service Manager. “We have a subscription conversion and refund program in place that has already been communicated to our print subscribers.”
Backpacking Light was founded in 2001 and rapidly established itself as a leading online publisher in the outdoor industry during a time when other outdoor magazines were struggling with their identity. Jordan claims that outdoor magazines still haven't quite figured out how to respond to economic and environmental pressures. “As for Backpacking Light, we have no identity crisis anymore,” says Jordan. “We know what has worked, what our subscribers want, and where to go from here. I'm really excited for the future.”
Jordan provided further commentary in an article published at BackpackingLight.com this morning.Oct 24, 2008 at 11:21 am #1456009
I became an online and print member in May of this year.
I've never received a print magazine yet!
Won't make much difference to me then. I love paying for nothing!Oct 24, 2008 at 11:23 am #1456010
Supending the Print mag makes me sad and angry at the same time, because your "refund policy" is worth nothing for me as an international customer. I've just ordered something a couple of hours ago, don't need anything else in the next months, means I can't use that coupon. And by the way, I never received issues 9 and 10!!! I don't think I'm gonna do business with you again. Fooling myself is cheaper. You should call Grant Sible and Ron Bell, they could teach you A LOT about customer service.
And btw: do you know how much energy is used just by pushing the "search" button on Google? The whole internet thing is not that environmentally responsible at all!Oct 24, 2008 at 11:26 am #1456011
@Valentin: please review the policy carefully. You are entitled to a cash refund in lieu of the coupon of course, for the value of your prorated unfulfilled subscription. And if you have not been receiving issues, then you should be contacting customer service, so that we can at least find out what went wrong and have the opportunity to honor our commitment to resolve your complaint.Oct 24, 2008 at 11:35 am #1456012
@mikefaedundee: if you did not receive copies of the magazine since May, then there may be a problem with your subscription record information. Please contact customer service so they can help you find out what's going on.Oct 24, 2008 at 12:00 pm #1456016
Devin MontgomeryBPL Member
@dsmontgomeryLocale: one snowball away from big trouble
I understand all of the so-called "reasons" for the decision, but I can't help but feel a deep sense of loss. There's nothing like thumbing through those crisp, brightly-colored pages as I lounge under my reading lamp, dreaming of the outdoors – I only hope that it might come back someday. If anybody needs me, I'll be quietly sobbing into my high-loft apparel, dampening it and ruining its insulating properties. Do you see what you've done!Oct 24, 2008 at 12:03 pm #1456017
@rstanekLocale: Southeast, Atlanta, GA
While I enjoy and subscribe to several magazines, I find the snippets of info on this site to be what I enjoy most, including quality feedback from members in the forums.
Honestly, the digital versions of the mag left something to be desired.
Not quite National Geographic quality (no offense meant to either party). I find digital mags to be difficult to read and digest in that particular format. I either like the full rag, or to seek smaller articles online.
So, in my case, I think you made a good choice here.
I'd enjoy seeing BPL put a little more focus on the web site as that's how I found BPL in the first place. The forums could be a bit more user friendly, and I'd love to see the site become more mobile enabled. (Yes, while occasionaly bored and without a good book, I'll read the forums on my Treo).
I also think you could find a happier medium for the yearly subscription price. My personal feeling is your "sweet spot" is more than $10, but less than $20.
Keep up the good work, and thanks for all that you do.Oct 24, 2008 at 12:05 pm #1456018
Blue _BPL Member
@lrmblueLocale: Northeast (New England)
Even though the magazine was unreliable in meeting its scheduled publishing dates I am very sad to see it go. The quality of the magazine seemed to grow more mature with every issue and I had hopes that someday it would become something like the original “Backpacker Magazine” (during the early issues under William Kemsley). In any case, thanks for giving the venture an honest try and for having the courage to admit that it wasn’t working well enough to continue when it clearly wasn’t. I’m glad I will have a complete set in my library, assuming Issue 10 ever arrives and Issue 11 eventually finds its way to my mailbox– sorry, I couldn’t resist ;-).
Of course, now without the print magazine I am expecting even greater things online. Embrace the contradiction: Lightweight Backpacking—Heavyweight Content.Oct 24, 2008 at 12:07 pm #1456019
Sam HaraldsonBPL Member
@sharaldsLocale: Gallatin Range
Keep in mind that our editorial content will now simply be delivered through the backpackinglight.com Web site rather than in a magazine. Think of this as being just one less place you have to look for good content ; )Oct 24, 2008 at 12:12 pm #1456020
The fair thing to have done was not to have breached your contracts with those readers whom you promised print magazines. You can't legally or ethically make a change of policy retroactive in order to intentionally breach your contract and actually believe that no damages have resulted. The print magazine was the main reason I have continued, with some ambivalence, to subscribe.Oct 24, 2008 at 12:18 pm #1456022
Andrew SkurkaBPL Member
Having a loose official relationship with BPL makes me slightly biased, but, Ryan, I think this is overall a wise decision and the reimbursement program seems very fair. When magazines fold they usually screw over the subscriber, but I'm pleased to read that BPL is taking a long-term and honorable view about it — it says something about the company I think. (Whether everyone reads the full policy before commenting angrily on this thread is another issue…").
The most important benefit of terminating the print magazine is that BPL can focus entirely on the website, which has always been BPL's core in the eyes of nearly all subscribers, staff, and contributors. True, a print magazine could expand the reach of BPL and lightweight backpacking, and eventually grow BPL's bottom line more than the online version. But print requires A LOT of resources (time, money, energy), and BPL was only marginally able to give it what it needed, maybe. The demands of both print and online seemed to often run BPL thin.
As a larger point, this action by BPL seems to be indicative of what is happening nationwide and worldwide right now. I can't help but notice the conspicuous increase in "SALE" signs in retailer windows and big balloons at car lots on the Front Range of Colorado over the last month. I'm not on the inside of any company, but I have to wonder whether these actions are correlated with actual sale trends, whether it's pre-emptive, or something in between. I think a lot more people might be forced to adopt the lightweight/simple lifestyle soon if things do not miraculously get better.Oct 24, 2008 at 12:20 pm #1456023
Joe ClementBPL Member
I read it online, so I'm not affected. It's a business decision, do what you gotta do. Best of luck.Oct 24, 2008 at 12:26 pm #1456024
@talusman: We will be issuing refunds for unfulfilled subscriptions, which is the fairest mechanism for us to honor our subscribers in the context of an economic recession that has had a dramatic and immediate impact on the print magazine industry. We won't be the only small magazines ending their print runs before the economy takes its toll a little deeper, and the chance that subscribers will see any refund of their subscription price from those magazines will be extremely slim. Alpinist is a case in point right now: the entire company shut its doors.Oct 24, 2008 at 12:26 pm #1456025
Jonathan RyanBPL Member
@jkrew81Locale: White Mtns
Not a bad way to go if it gives me more content to cruise on the site….Oct 24, 2008 at 12:32 pm #1456027
Well I will be sad to see the magazine end, and will order the final issue once it is out in the US. Would of liked to of had that as well being an international subscriber but as I said I will order a copy anyway when available.
I think the original two that complained about not getting copies should of contacted the BPL support people. Who when I have not received a copy have always responded within 24 hours, and either given an explanation why I have not had it (ie it has not been sent due to printers missing it), or sent a new copy no quibbles.
I think the offer to compensate folks is more than generous. And I will be taking them up on it.
I do hope that this puts BPL.com in a strong position to weather out the current economic downturn.Oct 24, 2008 at 12:36 pm #1456029
1). Doesn't your press release indicate that you will continue to produce the magazine in electronic form?
2). So, aren't we rally talking about printing and mailing costs.
3. Couldn't you say thet one year from today you will not take new one-year subscriptions to the print magazine and then print the next years issues in order to keep your promise?
4. What will the cost of subscription be when it is time for me to renew in March?
5). Will the electronic magazine subscription be seperate from the BPL membership cost?Oct 24, 2008 at 12:47 pm #1456030
To Darren Christie.
Being one of the 'two' that you mention, i would like to respond. I have read on here that the magazine was 'laid back' in its delivery. Being 'laid back' myself, i didn't worry. I just figured that 2 or 3 issues would arrive at once.
Don't judge me when you don't know me!
I hope the online mag and website go from strength to strength.:)Oct 24, 2008 at 12:47 pm #1456031
Sam HaraldsonBPL Member
@sharaldsLocale: Gallatin Range
David, I believe you misinterpreted the press release. Backpacking Light will no longer be offering a magazine in either a print format nor a digital format.
However, contributors and staff will continue to offer up quality editorial content for display on our Web site as part of our subscription-based membership. At this time there will be no change in the cost of an online subscription.
All free areas of the Web site will remain intact, the online store will continue to operate just as before as well.Oct 24, 2008 at 12:50 pm #1456032
A followup. Let's define terminology.
PRINT magazine – Backpacking Light Magazine, 96-page quarterly magazine delivered as hardcopy to "Print" subscribers and for single copy sales at newsstands.
DIGITAL magazine – the Zinio.com digital edition of the PRINT magazine. Delivered to all print subscribers as part of their subscription.
ONLINE membership – the annual subscription to the BackpackingLight.com website that includes access to members only content (M) and discounts on gear shop purchases.
Note that the content published in the PRINT/DIGITAL quarterly is not the same content that is published ONLINE.
With the discontinuation of the PRINT/DIGITAL magazine, we will redirect content publication to ONLINE.
What is being discontinued = PRINT/DIGITAL.
What will not change – ONLINE.
Do you see the confusion here? I hope so. It's not a product delivery strategy that reflects the light and simple nature of a company that advocates light and simple!Oct 24, 2008 at 12:52 pm #1456033
I gathered that the magazine will cease to exist and they will focus on more online content.
Also, you can't force someone to produce something and it is hard to argue damages for lack of a magazine. A refund should be sufficient in this case. Or are you implying that the cancellation of the magazine has damages greater than the cost of the subscription?Oct 24, 2008 at 12:57 pm #1456034
What exactly is included in the term "quality editorial content"Oct 24, 2008 at 12:58 pm #1456035
nanook ofthenorthBPL Member
I for one am thrilled that the print magazine is coming to an end. Since its inception I've noticed a decrease in the quality content that I joined BPL for.
The magazine never really attracted me, as a lightweight paddler and climber – although it did have some wonderful content from time to time. However I felt that prior to the magazine's establishment had been provided by the website I look forward the return of that content to the website.
While the e-copies of magazine were nice they were never anything that really got me excited. I also disliked the reduction of content online and the lack of any online price reduction at the time.
Unfortunately I am only willing to subscribe to one backpacking production a year and BPL.com with its tech based content and expedition coverage has fit that need.
The print magazine for me always seemed like brand dilution
A return to BPL's core business – its web presence, for me will be a welcome change.Oct 24, 2008 at 1:27 pm #1456037
I've just received an e-mail with more info re not receiving print mag. Thanks Karen. :)
The website is the main thing.Oct 24, 2008 at 1:32 pm #1456038
@hellbillylarryLocale: southern appalachians
As long as I recive issue 10 and 11 eventually I will be ok. I do think it sucks but what are you going to do you know. I will be more likely to renew my online subscription now as I was waiting to get my last 2 print issues to do so.Oct 24, 2008 at 1:40 pm #1456039
Hmmm…. I am a new subscriber. I paid the $25 for a year's magazine subscription (4 issues). I considered joining as a premium member at that time (wasn't there a special price for the combination?) but I am new to backpacking and wasn't sure I wanted it at the time.
Since my subscription only started with issue 11, how is a $15 coupon a fair offer? The $15 is not 3/4 of the $$$ I put out.
I was actually thinking of becoming a premium member now that I am getting into it. Now, if I was able to flip that $15 coupon into a premium membership, that would be cool.
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