As I grow increasingly comfortable with online shopping as an alternative to chasing hard to find items in brick and mortar storefronts, rationalizing clik to add to shopping cart becomes easier and easier as the cost of shipping tumbles. Then came Amazon Prime.
Amazon Prime is by all indications a very effective loss leader in the effort to tether consumers to mega-site Amazon for all their internet purchases. Patterned after the big box membership warehouse experience, Prime, for a modest annual fee, delivers not only free 2-day shipping on most items, but includes a bunch of other perks as well.
The price is right – for as long as it can last.
The included music feed is perfectly acceptable, eliminating having to subscribe to Pandora, Spotify, or Radio for a premium listening experience. Ditto access to online t.v. content, books, and a number of other features that save time and/or money.
I just discovered that a number of familiar, favorite, and free periodicals are available as well, viewable online or as downloaded Kindle content. Which is how I came across Cycle World, Bonnier’s flagship pub in their motorcycle group stable of powersports publications, as a free read on Amazon.
I’m not sure how the business model for offering up your vanguard bike magazine for free reading moves the bottom line needle. It’s not an option you’d expect to find in a typical subscription pitch; “12 Whole Issues For One Year’s Worth of Reading Only Zero Dollars and Zero Cents!”
Since consolidating the spectrum of motorcycle pubs several years ago by purchasing those niche assets from Hearst first, then Source Interlink, the overall health of print continues to circle the drain, excepting a few standouts like Garden & Gun. The price is right – for as long as it can last.
With a masthead that reads like a Who’s Who of popular consumer oriented bike books from the last 30 years (give or take), Barnett’s BikeCraft officially stepped into the deep end this month with the print version of their previously announced custom moto mag. At a time when print’s hold on the American psyche is under intense pressure, the decision to assemble a team of high-profile displaced editorial and creative types seems counter-intuitive. But it works.
Publisher Mike Barnett’s appreciation for print extends back to when the El Paso based Harley dealer popped the cork in the late ’90s on their first vanity press project, the no-cavier-for-me beer and bbq crowd Barnett’s Magazine. Originally styled as a new and used classifieds pub pushing dealer inventory in times of scarcity, the glossier than rival Motorcycle Trader dealt mainly in V-Twin pedigrees. This lasted until the economics of sustaining a print model against a global glut no longer made sense and the move to a dot-com online edition was finalized.
At about the same time, the moto journalism talent pool was suddenly bursting at the seams, courtesy mainly of HFM’s decision to scale back – way back – on most of their North American titles before ultimately putting them on the block. With staffs at all the genre pubs slashed razor-thin, competent, experienced, premium print skill was suddenly on the market. Serendipity knocked, and a new print publishing venture featuring a fair number of Cycle World alums shepherded by long time former editor-in-chief Dave Edwards, along with notables from CW competitors, was suddenly viable.
back to basics – take the long way home and you’ll get there sooner
How important is it to have experienced pros in your corner, especially for a startup? Take the treatment of all the product announcements, career snippets, random ricochets, and anecdotal memos that accumulate like dog hair under the living room sofa. Notice the runacross header with the catch-all title “Goggles”? Lacking the equivalent of refrigerator magnets, it serves as a frame for the collected odds and ends ranging from Post-Its to short essays. This took thought and skilled graphic design to arrive at a clever solution done well that looks easy yet escapes so many others.
Just eight pages in finds So-Cal designer-builder Denny Berg (left, above) profiled for his unique body of work designed and built during his tenure with aftermarket parts manufacturer Cobra. For nearly 20 years this graduate of Pasadena’s Art Center College of Design has created one innovative custom after another, each an exercise in form following function. Denny’s long been one of my favorites, widely regarded for his effortless style and laid back demeanor. Will the affable, accessible N. Dakota native ever get his own “reality” show? Uh, no. Which only means he’ll continue to inspire serious devotees of the craft with his dignity intact and his intellect secure.
looks familiar – for a reason
Barnett’s BikeCraft features art direction courtesy of CW expat Elaine Anderson, whose signature style after nearly three decades at the helm of America’s most popular bike book is unmistakable. The inaugural (No. 1, Summer 2012) issue of the seasonal quarterly takes advantage of plenty of editorial elbow room to hilite over a dozen richly illustrated features – bobbers, trackers, cafe racers – with inspired photography. There’s plenty of room for white space friendly, easy on the eyes, open leading type design that actually encourages rather than challenging readership.
With editorial, design, and content of this caliber and the small luxury of publishing as a quarterly, I’d have liked more attention to repro specs. Stepping up to a premium paper would add an extra dimension of crispness and detail this level of creative deserves. And the glaring lack of a robust supporting web site that’s less ’90s archival and more contemporary – I’d settle for a look that’s anything this side of 2006: Rolling Stone, anyone? – means an inexplicable squandered opportunity to connect, engage, and convert. Not porting the print concept online means turning one’s back on a market the size of, well, the planet. Not to mention the whole ePub thing going on these days.
Otherwise, it’s a worthy effort for a seasoned crew embarking on a challenging voyage. Here’s hoping they can stay the course.
The saga of Cycle World’s future existence continued today on news of the venerable publication’s sale to Field & Stream publisher Bonnier AB, a family held privately owned media group headquartered in Stockholm, Sweden. Self-described as, “… a culturally progressive, humanistic organization (with) knowledge-sharing goals,” the European publisher is also involved in book publishing, broadcast, digital, cinema, cultural events and educational efforts.
Many of the company’s best known titles were acquired as part of the Time print selloff in 2007.
News of Cycle World’s (re)sale was predicted before the ink was dry on the June, 2011 sale by HFM to Hearst. Shortly after the transfer, rumors began circulating that the familiar CW brand was for sale by owner, no reasonable offer refused. Bonnier’s titles also include Popular Science and Parenting. In a statement announcing the sale, Cycle World is slotted for Bonnier’s special interest Outdoor channel. The amount of the sale was not disclosed.
Bonnier’s portfolio of titles is impressive, and includes such special interest lifestyle nameplates as Saveur, the Transworld active collection, Motorboating and Yachtbroker. Given the production quality and editorial value of their offerings, Cycle World seems likely to maintain their leadership in print while enjoying a much needed web makeover that could be transformational.
Tuesday’s official announcement from Hearst Corporation finalizing the sale of Lagardère Group (Hachette) media assets – nearly 100 titles, plus 50 websites – didn’t contain any surprises. As managment teams passed in the hallways, our main interest was focused on whether or not any changes for Cycle World were in the offing, as corporate control shifted from Paris to New York.
With the sale officially complete, Hearst’s total domestic circulation now exceeds 30,000,000. Elle, Car and Driver, and Road and Track were the titles most frequently mentioned in releases from both camps.
Changes in store? In addition to plans to move the titles to the glam Hearst Tower “…within six to nine months,” Hearst yesterday got out the ax in announcing the first staff cuts following the $900-million plus takeover. In round one, nearly 20 percent of the former HFM personnel have been let go, including most of Steve Goldner’s social media staff, according to an article in today’s NY Post. Whether the latter was a vote of no confidence in adminstration, message or perceived value of the social media channel isn’t yet clear. HFM had always played catch up in developing their digital assets. For now we’ll assume the goal is to reboot.
PARIS Lagardère SCA today announced a €651M binding offer by Hearst Corporation for the sale of it’s international publishing empire (102 titles in 15 countries), including the industry leader Cycle World brand, part of the HFMUS portfolio of titles.
elle trademark retained
Lagardère would retain control, however, of it’s iconic ELLE trademark, which it will continue to license for various markets including mobile, print and product, and thus benefit from future royalties.
According to the press release, the parties have until Q3 2011 to complete the sale.