Backpacking Light to Suspend Print Magazine Production, Will Refocus Energy to Online Content Development
Bozeman, Mont. - October 24, 2008 – Beartooth Media Group, Inc., announced today that it will suspend production of its print magazine (and the Zinio.com digital edition of that print magazine), Backpacking Light. Other operations, including its website, BackpackingLight.com, its book publishing division (“Beartooth Mountain Press”), and the Backpacking Light range of house-branded gear and apparel, will remain business as usual.
Issue 11 will be the final issue mailed to domestic (U.S.) subscribers and issue 10 will be the final issue mailed to international subscribers. All issues remain available for single copy purchase at BackpackingLight.com, and Issues 9-11 will remain available at existing newsstand locations throughout the U.S.
Reasons for discontinuing production of the print magazine include: rising costs, inability to meet production schedules, industry-wide declines in print media advertising and subscription revenues, increasing pressure from subscribers to have a “lightweight” footprint on the environment true to the company's vision, and the desire to refocus the company's energy back to its online media roots.
The company's President and CEO, Ryan Jordan, cites the current economic recession as a major factor in this decision. “Printing, transportation, and fulfillment cost increases over the past few years make publishing a print magazine of our size at an affordable price impossible without advertising,” Jordan said. “Now that advertisers are moving more of their ad dollars online, the ability to produce a high-quality, short run, niche publication requires substantial costs. It's not fair to our long-time customers, including our gear shop and online subscribers, to divert their dollars to unprofitable projects.”
In addition, the company has found it increasingly difficult to reconcile their print magazine footprint with their vision as an industry environmental leader. “We promote sustainability and responsible resource usage,” comments Jordan. “It's hard to do that when retailers and magazine distributors are destroying unsold copies of the magazine, and subscribers are throwing them away.” Jordan continues, “The printing industry is the fourth largest emitter of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. Add to this the the monumental transportation costs required to deliver printed matter from the factory to distributors, retailers, and subscribers, and the combined tax upon energy levels is pretty dramatic. We can't in good conscience be a part of that simply to increase our sales base and to serve the decreasing number of subscribers that demand that their information be delivered in print. The outdoor industry's addiction to paper – magazines, catalogs, hang tags – is completely counterproductive to their long term sustainability. We've made the decision to break away from that herd.”
Jordan states that the complexity of producing a print magazine has also taken its toll on the resources of a company that already produces one of the outdoor industry's largest web sites, manages a book publishing division, and its own brand of outdoor gear and apparel. “The print magazine was an experiment that diverted resources away from our core activities. Now it's time to end the experiment and reinvest our resources into serving and building our core business, and serving those customers that have been such an instrumental part of growing our company. As hard as it is to end the print magazine, it's an exciting time because we have so much to look forward to in the future. Keeping the print magazine afloat has inhibited us from doing some of the other things that we really wanted to do for our customers.” One of those things, cites Jordan, is expanding the depth and diversity of the editorial content published online at BackpackingLight.com.
Subscribers holding unfulfilled subscriptions will not be left in the dark. “We are committed to making sure that every subscriber to the print magazine will be taken care of,” says Karen Wilson, Backpacking Light's Customer Service Manager. “We have a subscription conversion and refund program in place that has already been communicated to our print subscribers.”
Backpacking Light was founded in 2001 and rapidly established itself as a leading online publisher in the outdoor industry during a time when other outdoor magazines were struggling with their identity. Jordan claims that outdoor magazines still haven't quite figured out how to respond to economic and environmental pressures. “As for Backpacking Light, we have no identity crisis anymore,” says Jordan. “We know what has worked, what our subscribers want, and where to go from here. I'm really excited for the future.”
Jordan provided further commentary in an article published at BackpackingLight.com this morning.