Kenny Pryde, editor of IPCs MBR magazine rang today to express his disgust at not being interviewed for a piece I penned for the US trade magazine (copy below). Take away the swearing and the aggression and he has a point. But heres the rub: I asked for comments on the UK magazine scene via the bulletin board on this site. Many industry figures, and magazine editors, replied to that request and some of their comments were included in the piece.
Instead of getting quotes from the obvious sources, some really interesting points of view were raised by characters I would never have thought to ring (although not all of them made it into the final piece).
Pryde proudly admitted he never looks at this site and so missed the mention on the bulletin board. He therefore wont be complaining about this piece quoting his foul mouthed abuse. Hes also missing out on a lot of industry information that other magazine journalists re-write for their readers. Shame that.
[From Bicycle Retailer and Industry News, USA, December 2000]
Five Cycling Mags Fold in England
BY CARLTON REID
LONDON, EnglandThe British bike market has been hit by a raft of magazine closures. In the last three months five major titles have closed: Cycling Today, On Your Bike, Mountain Biker International, Bycycle, and Bike Culture.
The two latter titles were published by Open Road of York. Open Road also published Encycleopaedia, the everything cycling product annual. The company recently laid off all five staff and is now reduced to the founder, Jim McGurn, who is hoping to keep Bike Culture alive by publishing it himself.
There are currently nine news-stand cycle magazines in the UK: MBUK, Cycling Plus, and What Mountain Bike (all Future Publishing), MBR, Cycling Weekly, Cycle Sport (all IPC), Ride and Dirt (both from 4130 Ltd) and ProCycling from Cabal Communications.
There are also niche triathlon titles and club magazines such as Cycle, from the 50 000-member Cyclists Touring Club.
Across all titles there is advertising revenue of £3-4m. Twelve year old MBUK has the best circulation, which can peak at 60 000.
Mike Davis, editor of MBUK.com, believes the other MTB titles collapsed through natural selection:
There were too many magazines for the size of the market. Many of them tried to occupy percieved niches in said market. The niches weren't there. They shut. End of story.
Davis said that MBUK is in a market-dominating position for a reason: it works. Magazines that have diverted from the MBUK formula and aimed at moneyed thirtysomethings instead of teenagers, generally come unstuck:
Personally speaking, I'd like a magazine full of great looking trails, lovely kit, beautiful parts of the world, thoughtful essaid on the joy of mountain biking and all the rest. I'd like to work on one. But I don't for one minute think it would sell.
Chris Porter, one-time editor of Mountain Biker International, now UK agent for Fox suspension products, believes MTB magazines have been caught in the crossfire in the publishing war between Future and IPC.
A while back Future started a yacht magazine. IPC considered they 'owned' the particular sector so they spat their MBR-shaped dummy into the MTB market. The advertising price war that was started then saw ad rates drop to a point where regular, large advertisers were offered stupidly low rates to keep them from supporting the rival mag, Porter said.
He said aggressive cover-mounting finished off the smaller publishers. One of the magazines that could never compete in the cover-mount war was Cycling Today. Editor Guy Andrews who now has a PR business blames the United Kingdoms biggest magazine retailer, WH Smiths.
The real reason for the death of the UK bike mag is the ever competitive nature of WH Smiths. Shelf space charging is now a fact of life. Ask any small independant publisher and they'll tell you how hard it is. No matter how good their product is, they just can't get it to the public.
ProCycling, from two year old Cabal Communications, made a concerted effort to break free from the WH Smiths stranglehold and went international.
We try to make European professional cycling glamorous, controversial - don't need to try too hard on that - and exciting, said Jeremy Whittle, editor of Pro Cycling.
Americans love British mags, but they are considered a luxury buy, as US mags are so cheap, yet our standards of editorial expertise and photography are highly thought of.
IPC also has had success with its magazines Cycling Weekly and Cycle Sport on US newsstands. Both magazines are sold by retailers like Borders and Barnes and Noble. Cycle Sport is also distributed in the United States by World Cycling Productions. Despite its high cover price and the monthly color glossy Cycle Sport has developed a following among US racing enthusiasts.