I’d read about magazine distribution debacles, including the demise of a major player, in the bosacks.com industry newsletter I follow. http://www.bosacks.com/industry-news/2014-the-magazine-distribution-channel-how-much-longer-can-the-unsustainable-be-sustained
But the issue – pun intended – didn’t hit home for me until I sashayed down to my local bookstore, Book World in downtown Houghton, this afternoon for what I’d envisioned as an ego-stroking shot of BOTH of “my” magazines on the racks this month. I have features in PassageMaker and Lake Superior Magazine. That’s a really exciting two-fer and heck yeah, I wanted to celebrate and share the accomplishment.
Book World, alas, currently carries neither magazine. In the boating category, “it’s down to Wooden Boat,” says Sue, who was stocking the racks when I arrived, iPad in hand, for my shameless vanity shot. The magazine display area used to take up most of the back wall and the east wall of the store. Now it’s just the east wall.
That there are no copies of Cruising World, Sail, Sailing, Great Lakes Boating, et. al is disturbing. The absence of the iconic Lake Superior Magazine, which frequently includes Copper Country stories in its pages and always has Keweenaw destinations in its top travel destination rankings, is shocking. This much-loved Copper Country staple published by our neighbors on the Big Lake over in Duluth is normally in the rack near the cash register. You can see it right when you come in the door, opposite the bestsellers. Its absence so stunned me that I left the store without picking up the Nat Geo Traveler and More magazines I’d been meaning to snag along with extra copies of “my” magazines. Come to think of it, maybe the store no longer carries those, either.
So it seemed that instead of a Shelfie my double byline score would be relegated to a selfie. Luckily daughter Shannon arrived just in time for a silly session that put my disappointment in correct perspective and sent my ego back on vacation to champagne dreams and caviar wishes in a red-sequined bikini sipping an umbrella-garnished rum cocktail in Belize.
Lake Superior Magazine assures that it is working on the situation and in the meantime is also available at several smaller outlets, including Copper World in Calumet. I’ll also be letting PassageMaker and the other nautical magazines I like to read and write for know that their publications aren’t available on these shores of the greatest freshwater sea in the world. It seems a shame that any relevant specialty publication should be denied an outlet in a community of readers. The niche magazines are what delight so many of us. They’re what draws us to the bookstores. As I told Sue, the magazines Book World carries now are basically the giant general-interest glossies that you can buy in the supermarket. Not that I don’t love me some ‘O’ or BHG but I believe there should be ample room on the racks for the special-interest/hobbyist/deep-digging-into-specialty subject magazines. The stats show that most of us still like to read our magazines in print. The apps just aren’t happening. Yet. This aspect of the evolving Wild West of Publication deserves some attention.