October 16, 2006

The business of publishing

I’ve thought a lot recently about the notion of piping and drumming associations being in the business of serious publishing. Every print magazine for the piping and drumming world is connected with some association or business. In fact, the market is severely over-served, given the relatively small size of the potential audience.

With most pipe band associations and organizations feeling that they have to produce a regular print magazine, per capita it’s akin to the City of New York having a few thousand daily newspapers, or a thousand magazines vying for the world’s cycling audience. It does not make sense.

Twenty or so years ago there were the College of Piping’s Piping Times, the RSPBA’s Pipe Band and the PPBSO’s Canadian Piper & Drummer. Today, I can count at least 10 print publications, each connected with an association.

Associations of course need to communicate to their members, and there’s significant intangible marketing value in a well put-together magazine. But many organizations seem to be bogged down with producing these periodicals.

I assembled the Piper & Drummer for 18 years, and the publication was considered by many to be the best available. But I know how much it cost to produce it. I know how difficult it was to attract paid subscriptions. I know first hand that an expensive, high quality print magazine is frequently a convenient scapegoat for financial woes.

The business of piping and drumming associations is piping and drumming. Sure, communicate with members, but leave the serious publishing to those who know the business of serious publishing.




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