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Print vs. Web edition
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John Witt
(johnbrown2005) - F

Locale: Portland, OR
Print vs. Web edition on 04/19/2006 17:44:50 MDT Print View

I hate to bring up a sore subject, but I felt my irritation level rise again today when I got my BPL news e-mail.

While there's been relatively little new content, (especially beyond reviews) in the web edition I've paid for, there's a number of interesting articles in the print edition that I don't have access to:

"Publisher's View: Homogenization of the Long Distance Hiking Experience
Long Distance Hiking on the Hayduke Trail
Photo Essay: The Hayduke Trail
Double-Wall Tents
The Examined Life: Socrates and Ultralight Gear"

Aaaargghh! I thought the last chaff discussion on this was pretty thorough, and in general I really appreciate BPL's product, but I need to share my continued frustration on this issue (so to speak...).

Edited by johnbrown2005 on 04/19/2006 23:21:51 MDT.

Benjamin Smith
(bugbomb) - F - M

Locale: South Texas
Re: Print vs. Web edition on 04/19/2006 20:34:10 MDT Print View

You know, I've got to agree this time. In the past when this has come up, I've felt that the BPL online content has been worth the price. However, the split content is getting more and more maddening. I'm sure that's part of the idea - they want everyone to know that there's more out there (at an additional cost). But I didn't subscribe for the gear reviews. I subscribed because I got tired of seeing these amazing-looking philosophy and technique articles cordoned off by that enticing red "M." And had I known that the content split would be the way it was, I might have opted for the print subscription rather than the online for my money. Anyways, consider the horse dead and beaten. But know that I share your feelings.

FYI - you can read Brian Frankle's excellent trip diary of the Hayduke on ULA's site. Itty-bitty pictures, though. Since he's the first to thru-hike it, I would bet that his trip was the basis for the BPL article.

All this griping aside, if the online editorial calendar pans out, it will be a great set of articles. I'm still very enthusiastic about this place, just a little bemused by the feeling that I got on board after all the good stuff was already published.


Degree in English literature - check. Too bad I still can't spell "bet."

Edited by bugbomb on 04/19/2006 20:36:06 MDT.

what about the trees, guys? on 04/20/2006 09:22:17 MDT Print View

I subscribed to the "web edition" to save trees -- the ones I backpack through. I live in BC, Canada, which normally provides a substantial portion of the forest products used in North America. Even the major air routes fly over hundreds of thousands of acres of clearcut; clearcutting that was done to print newspapers and magazines among other things. There are millions of acres of decimated land here and the resulting effects on wildlife, topsoil, and climate persist for 30 or 50 years until the land is "harvestable" again. Thus I do my reading onscreen where possible instead of on a tree.

An *outdoors* magazine that does not offer a web edition of its' content is reprehensible.

name game on 04/20/2006 09:23:55 MDT Print View

I'm not sure that I've heard of another publication that uses the *same name* for the print copy and "web edition" but then witholds content from the practically-free-to-publish-compared-to-print web edition. Print magazines always say "see our website for more." This magazine is the inverse? "Buy our print magazine to learn how to *use* the gear we just reviewed"??

The two BPLs seem to be separate publications that share some content -- and share a name! I would have liked for this name game to have been made clear at the time of purchase. I'm surprised to have accidentally paid for the gear review site when I was interested in the *technique*, philosophy, and editorials which seem to be sold in print form only?

Joshua Mitchell
(jdmitch) - F

Locale: Kansas
Extremely Bothersome on 04/20/2006 09:24:38 MDT Print View

I, too, signed up as much for the content as for the reviews.

IMO, the 'print' articles should be available for subscribers (in PDF form).

It's frustrating when good content comes out (via print) that bypasses loyal subscribers (especially considering that providing it online is a Zero additional cost feature once the article has been written). Even if it was released in a delayed time-scale (to encourage but not require print subscriptions).

I'm still debating whether I will renew my subscription or not. It depends on how the planned online content pan out, and how much promising content is withheld from the online subscription holders.

Edit - Also a big agreement for the guy who mentioned signing up to save trees... I (for one) actually PREFER electronic forms of documentation.

Edited by jdmitch on 04/20/2006 09:26:19 MDT.

meat and potatoes on 04/20/2006 09:41:41 MDT Print View

I think it's very thorough of you to take the time to review and compare 64 billion tents. Even a 2-lb snowboard carrying backpack is an interesting sideline review for a few readers, and if you have the resources I say why not.

But shouldn't these be peripheral to the core of the content: content about BACKPACKING LIGHT?? How to, where to, when to, how you do it, how others do it, why, what *types* of gear people bring, how they use that gear, where you go and how it worked out, how to stay safe, how to handle emergencies with reduced gear, how to transition, etc.?

A tent comparo serves the small percentage of readers who need new tents right then. (And the larger percentage of armchair gearheads who spend their backpacking time ordering the latest and greatest to make sure that their 17 bag nights a year are the lightest in the forest.)

Real *articles*, rather than reviews and comparisons, would benefit most readers, and the resulting discussion would benefit the rest.

Oh wait. Pardon me. These articles *are* published. They're just available in BPL's doppelganger: BPL Print. Let me get my credit card.

Benjamin Smith
(bugbomb) - F - M

Locale: South Texas
what to do? on 04/20/2006 10:18:40 MDT Print View

I don't think that anonymous grousing will help matters much. Based on BPL's declared ethics, I feel certain that they aren't trying to gyp or mislead anyone. If the honchos had felt that the online readers were the ones demanding editorial/technique content, they would probably provide it here. What is necessary, then, is to communicate clearly to the editors that the online readers are a) not interested in additional subscriptions for the print magazine but b) more than willing to eschew gear reviews for more depth in the editorial content.

I understand the previous poster's statement that web content is virtually cost-free once developed - I don't think it's realistic to expect BPL to offer all the content that they had planned to make money from here for free... at least not without changing the site to one littered with endorsements, sponsors, and ads.

While I don't think that BPL intended this result or our reaction, it is very plain that something is amiss based on the sheer number of active readers/participants who have expressed surprise and frustration at the content split. Maybe we just weren't told clearly enough at the beginning... In any case, I'd love to see a solution. To me, a premium membership means I get to see everything - anything else simply violates what I would consider a reasonable expectation.

We'll figure it out,

grousing or communication? on 04/20/2006 11:38:15 MDT Print View

What "declared ethics"? Nothing was declared at the time that they were taking my money.

Backpacking Light Magazine gives you two options: "Purchase an Online Subscription" and "Purchase a Print Magazine Subscription".

If you are advertisiing TWO DIFFERENT MAGAZINES you have to give them TWO DIFFERENT NAMES. Otherwise you are misleading people. I feel mislead. This is not grousing: it's feedback.

Scott Ashdown
(waterloggedwellies) - F

Locale: United Kingdom
Print v Web Edition on 04/20/2006 12:10:50 MDT Print View

Hmm, I have to agree with what has been written above.

I thought in the past that maybe the number of articles posted on the website had reduced. Initially, I of course looked through a lot of the past articles and still do. However, as time goes on you want to read the latest articles and then end up waiting for them to materialise. When I first took out my BPL subscription I was under the impression, as has been mentioned above, that I could either have the print version or identicle content via the web magazine. Now I would normally prefer the item or in this case, the magazine in my hand in the same way I prefer my music on a disc and not online. Somehow it feels more like value for money. However, the additional postage to here in the UK and the fact that the web had forums I could use, sold me on going with the web version. So, I was surprised to realise recently that the content is in fact very different.

I'm even more surprised to find out that i'm not the only one who was mistaken in this respect.

Now, don't misunderstand me, I enjoy the BPL website and visit it more than most but I have to say that it is more often than not the forums where I am picking up technique and gear tips etc instead of the BPL editorial content. That surely can't be right.

More often than not, I log onto the site to find that the only thing that has changed on the home page are the user reviews and forum listings. So my subscription money clearly isn't being spent on catching my eye with content and layout in the same way that it would be if it were in a paper based magazine.

My web page 'magazine' hasn't had to go through printing productions runs, guillotining, collating, posting etc. Now I would pay marginally more in subscription for access to the other articles but at the moment I have to say I feel a little short changed.

Now some of the promised upcoming content looks good and I will renew my subscription to see how that pans out but at the moment, some of the most informative, thought provoking content comes through the forums from the likes of Bill Fornshell and PJ.

I know articles take time to research, write etc and these are some of the reasons we have been given. I accept that but if daily newspapers can put a product out every day (Given they have more staff) and BPL is managing to put out a regular magazine, it seems unfair to expect web users to pay more for a magazine when the content turnout hasn't been as great in volume as maybe it should have been.

It is as has been mentioned above, articles on technique, how, where, why, when etc that I also want to see. I want to learn something new. Gear reviews are great and I do value them. I have made purchasing decisions on the back of them but I also want to learn something new. So, a little more variety maybe.

Fingers crossed, things will get better. I will give anyone the benefit of the doubt and with my further subscription, BPL will have another year to get it right, which I hope, am sure, it will.

switch? on 04/20/2006 12:44:09 MDT Print View

Perhaps there could be the option to switch between web and print editions once within the term of a subscription? For those who feel hard done by.

Nothing against BPL for trying to make a profit, but do it with some class guys. Selling a "Web Subscription" or a "Print Subscription" that are actually different magazines so that you have to really buy both to read the magazine is poor form.

Like a cafe I was in once where the waitress kept coming around and refilling my mug but when I got up to leave she brought me a bill for $27. Sure; they technically didn't say anything about free refills. But it's the norm in North America and they knew that the customer was making that assumption.

Imagine if you subscribed to the "online version" of your local newspaper and they happily took your money, but then when you logged in you found out you couldn't get the sports or finance sections. And when you asked, they said "we're trying to differentiate the two publications."


Eric Noble
(ericnoble) - MLife

Locale: Colorado Rockies
Re: Print vs. Web edition on 04/20/2006 14:48:37 MDT Print View

I agree with Joshua and ¿¿Anonymous?? The content of the print edition should be available online. The only question in my mind is, at what cost. I actually went to purchase the individual issues online, but stopped when I realized I would have to wait for them to be mailed to me. The use of resources (paper, ink, gas etc.) was also an issue for me. I was willing to pay the 5 USD per issue.

There is a market for both publications. There are those who just appreciate the quaint notion of a magazine they can hold. There are also those who do not have a computer or internet access. The print version is there for them. The online version is different only due to its interactive nature. The subject matter is the same in both outlets. The articles should be as well. IMHO the online subscription should be the superset of the two with the print version being the subset that the medium allows (i.e no forums etc.). If the subject matter of the two publications were different I suspect we would not be having this discussion.

EDIT: The medium is the market differentiator, not the subject.

Edited by ericnoble on 04/20/2006 15:00:53 MDT.

douglas ray

Locale: Olympic Peninsula
My two cents on 04/20/2006 17:22:31 MDT Print View

Just to throw my two cents into the fray, I to am disappointed that almost all of the non-gear content has been left in the print publication. I can also echo the concerns about the use of resources and overall wastage of print vs. web publication. Perhapse a compromise would be to make the print publication available on cd-rom or something like that. I'd be willing to buy some more content but I don't really want to use up trees and have more paper to store,

Benjamin Smith
(bugbomb) - F - M

Locale: South Texas
Re: My two cents on 04/20/2006 19:24:44 MDT Print View

In the spirit of discussion - I'll first say that this thread is a great example of inappropriate/inconvenient use of anonymous posting. In an open discourse, it's important to be able to easily indicate which person you're responding to, and no one, anonymous or no, can do so easily in this thread.

Back to the topic at hand:

I think that BPL's ethics are plain to anyone who actively participates on this site, either as a message board member or as a retail customer. My point in saying what I did was simply to emphasize that this issue of print content vs. online content is a single instance of "underhanded" dealing from a company that, by all appearances, is very upfront about their goals, agendas, and strategies. I think that every single person who has ever posted re: this issue was similarly under the impression that the online and print content were identical. That's been stated - we need to talk solution. That's the only way we'll find out if BPL is interested in rectifying the situation, and it's the only way that BPL will know how we'd like that to be done.

My suggestion is similar to those who have - all content can be online. Offer a print subscription if you must, but don't hold out on those of us who dislike glossies and modular subscriptions. I still think this is the best site of its kind on the web, and the infrastructure is there to make it every bit as amazing as it appeared when I first stumbled across it. For now, the articles I go back to read were already published when I first subscribed months and months ago.


Stephen Parmenter
(parmens) - F - MLife

Locale: OH
My 2¢ on 04/20/2006 20:39:23 MDT Print View

I like many am not sure I got my $ worth over the past year in either subscription, but have just signed up for another year, because BPL has promised to provide more of what we have asked for, going forward. So from that perspective of "money's worth", I would agree with those voicing disappointment. Having said that... never was I under the impression that the material was going to be identical, take your choice on delivery. I can't agree with this view that the subscriptions were somehow misrepresented.

Scott Ashdown
(waterloggedwellies) - F

Locale: United Kingdom
Re: Re: My two cents on 04/20/2006 20:40:20 MDT Print View

I just received my BPL premium member news via email. It's clear that BPL staff have picked up on recent forum discussions concerning content. This has resulted in the Editorial Calendar and it is handy to see what the upcoming web content will be.

However, one part of interest read "With a new structure, some incredible writers, and a vision to make sure that its readers are totally engaged with its content, the print magazine will evolve into a journal that will hopefully earn prime real estate in your home library as a reference for years to come." I would take this to mean that the intention was still to drive ahead and make the print publication even more of a distinct and seperate entity.

I'm sure if they want that information to "earn prime real estate in your home library" then placing that information onto the website is really the only way to go. Otherwise, these articles are effectively used once and then forgotton by BPL, whereas if placed on the web, that content could be searched for and referred to for years by new members. In the magazine, new subscribers would need to get back issues to achieve the same thing and so would most likely lose out on past content.

Ask the question, if the BPL didn't have the readers reviews (A great feature) and forums, would you visit the site as often.

Surely the point of being a publisher is for readers to ultimately access your written content.

BPL should offer the same content in both.

BPL should then work out a core price for this monthly content and the price should include their profit.

Onto this price BPL should then add the following:

Print Subscribers: Core Price of content, plus price for print-version, plus delivery cost.

Internet Subscribers: Core Price of content, plus price for website access.

This way, a print subscriber could then, having already paid for the yearly content, just upgrade and pay a small small additional fee for the website access, forums etc.

Likewise, Website subscribers again having paid for the content and ability to access the forums etc could pay the small additional price to cover the print production, plus the postage should they want a printed copy.

Either way, both sets of subscribers would get the same information. The only difference would be a small amount to cover the difference between the benefits of the website against the increased production cost of the magazine.

Currently, website members, can pay a reduced fee for annual subscription to the print magazine but this only gives them access to articles that are probably not in a media format they want to receive them in.

Come on BPL, standardise your editorial content across both media and revise your charging structure.

If I had been a print subscriber, I would pay an additional fee for acesss to the publishers website and the chance to communicate with other readers etc. Maybe, there should be more than one category of website member, those that only see editorial content from the month they joined onwards and then those members (for a slightly higher fee) that have access to all the past content, archives as well.

Either way I feel like I should have access to the same content, and while I am prepared to pay marginally more for it, i'm not prepared to pay the current website members price for the print version. So maybe a price to see that information electronically as well via the website.

Just some food for thought.

Edited by waterloggedwellies on 04/20/2006 20:41:15 MDT.

Eric Noble
(ericnoble) - MLife

Locale: Colorado Rockies
Re: My 2¢ on 04/20/2006 23:06:36 MDT Print View

Like Stephen, I also was never confused about how the subscriptions were represented, and the ethics of those involved in BPL have never been suspect in my time here. I just want the print content to be available, in some form, on the web site.

Edited by ericnoble on 04/20/2006 23:07:26 MDT.

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Re: Re: My 2¢ on 04/21/2006 02:10:17 MDT Print View

Like a couple, at least, of previous posters, there was no confusion on my end on the content of the On-Line and Print subscriptions. For some reason, I thought BPL made that pretty clear. If I had thought that the content was the same, I would not have purchased the print subscription since I could get that content online.

At this point in time, I'm not renewing my Print subscription until I see the remaining issues and their content. I do like the fact that {some/all ???} of the print articles are available for download through the BPL On-Line store. This might actually be the deciding factor in renewiing. I like to purchase what I will use or find interesting and nothing more. I hesitated to mention this since it might be an incentive to make the downloads go away? Also, I've actually liked some of the print articles so much that I also purchased a dowload copy so I could have it with me on my laptop. The last issue though made me lean towards just purchasing for download only those articles of interest to me.

Can't wait to see the remaining issues.

Edited by pj on 04/21/2006 02:17:48 MDT.