September 26, 2007

Publish and perish

I got my historic copy of the BC Pipers Newsletter yesterday – a landmark issue since it’s apparently the last one. There’s a reference in the front about how they have been unsuccessful finding an editor for it, so they’ll produce a two-page thing every so often.

Nostalgically speaking, that’s sad, since this was number three-hundred-and-something, easily making it the longest-running piping print-periodical in the world. It predates James MacNeill and Thomas Pearston’s League of Young Scots’ Piping Times.

Practically speaking, I’m not surprised. For the last 10 years, just about all of the information in the Newsletter was available months before on the net, usually on this website. It wasn’t very well designed either, and the stock was super-heavy and unnecessarily expensive.

I read the other day that subscriptions to daily print newspapers and magazines continue to decline, while online publications’ popularity rises. The publishing industry keeps marching into its crater of quandary: how much content to offer online and for how much and how do you replace lost print revenues?

I’ve said before that piping and drumming organizations should not be in the business of publishing. It doesn’t make sense and, inevitably, it’s not cost-effective. If they need to print things, they should outsource it or co-op with successful, independent ventures and do it right.

The Piper & Drummer print magazine, despite constant feedback that it kept getting better year after year, saw its paid subscriptions decline to the point where it became a cash drain. Without giving over more than a third of its pages to advertising (as an example, when I last read a copy many years ago, the Piping Times gives up about 60-per-cent of its volume to ads), the P&D print magazine was assembled very economically despite its glossy stock and full-colour. I shudder to think what piping and drumming associations must pay from membership fees to produce their ambitious books.

All that said, I’ll miss the BC Pipers’ Newsletter, but will look forward to reading and receiving their ongoing news, and, I hope, to serving their membership through pipes|drums.




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