The snowboard magazine is a dying breed. Until Spring 2009 the UK had three homegrown snowboard magazines on the shelves of good newsagents (and some rubbish ones as well). Today a UK snowboarder walking into Smithies has to choose between WhiteLines, the European magazine Onboard, or go for the mixed snow sports magazines of Daily Mail Ski (& Snowboard) or Fall Line Skiing.
Summer 2009 saw the first of the UK snowboard magazines to be condemned to history with the death of Snowboard UK. The UK’s longest running snowboard magazine disappearing with the demise of Freestyle Publications Ltd, after they went into administration. Document Snowboard suffered the same feat in Spring 2010, now only existing on the internet after the printed magazine was amalgamated with it’s sister magazine, Fall Line Skiing. That just leaves WhiteLines as the UK’s sole purchasable snowboard specific magazine. I say that, as Ian Sansom’s The Reason magazine has appeared on the scene, but it’s available free from snow related outlets.
So why have we seen the demise of the paper magazine? Well, like it or not, snowboarding is a minority sport in the UK. It may just be the simple fact that the small number of us cannot support three magazines. It therefore turns into the survival of the fittest. WhiteLines with it’s clever subscription offers and goodies came out the fittest. WhiteLines obviously has some savvy people behind it, no doubt helped by being under the Factory Media/MPORA umbrella that also houses Onboard Magazine along with many other â€˜extreme sport’ publications such as Sidewalk and Surfer’s Path. Witnessing the demise of the other magazines and the snowboard public’s appetite for up to date news, they went from no internet presence to a large one pretty much overnight. They have a crisp website with up to date news, videos hosted by MPORA and a large facebook and twitter following. They even have a digital version of the magazine, courtesy of an iphone/ipad app.
The down turn in the economy has without doubt had an impact. Snowboard UK suffered from it’s publishing house Freestyle Publishing going into administration.
Document Snowboard’s death, was probably down to a business decision of a tightening of the belts. Why have two ailing magazines when you can group them together and save all manner of costs? In an article on Fear of the Park ( http://www.fearofthepark.co.uk/?p=16087 ), The Reason editor Ian Sansom surprisingly mentions that over half of the printed magazines are never bought, only ever seeing the pulper. What a waste of money. No surprise that magazines have gone to the wall in these economic climes with such poor production controls.
One of the biggest reasons I see of the demise of the paper magazine is not through the need for up to date news but a larger spread of advertising. Take a current magazine and compare it in thickness to one from a few years past. You’ll notice a significant difference. Magazines are losing out in advertising revenue and this is in the main how they survive. Whilst magazines are great for the manufacturers in terms of product and rider promotion, if you’re a shop your money is better invested in internet campaigns. When was the last time you looked in a magazine for a price for your new board? Answer: Probably many moons ago. If you want to search for a product or price you don’t pick up a magazine, you fire up google. As a shop marketeer you can get instant feedback on website referrals and discount codes used. Google ads are a great tool, as you target certain searches in which your shop will appear high on the list. How can you get that from a paper magazine?
Internet magazines are not free from troubles though. Fear of the Park folded a few years ago, only to quickly rise from it’s smouldering ashes into a well respected website in UK snowboarder circles. Tongue in cheek articles, good reviews and the excellent SLV video podcasts made it an excellent website to while away a few dull moments at work. Unfortunately FOTP recently announced that it was pulling the plug permanently on the site, â€œfor reasons that we won’t go into.â€ I know one shouldn’t assume, but I doubt the advertising revenue stream was sufficient enough to pay the rent so to speak, especially after only recently mentioning a â€˜pay to view’ subscriber element of the website.
I don’t want to see the death of the paper magazine. For one, what else can I read when I’m on my travels and have no internet access? There’s nothing quite like flicking through the pages of a magazine, looking at the vibrant, colourful pictures. I’ve also had pieces published in magazines. I have copies of them for posterity, whereas my internet articles are only around for as long as someone wants to host them or pull the plug on the site. Thankfully magazines like WhiteLines have their feet in both camps and I hope they continue to do so.
This is a guest post by Pete Campbell, a snowboard coach at LoveSnow.