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Media special part two: The digital age of publishing - BikeBiz

Media special part two: The digital age of publishing

BikeBiz talks to ten publishers, large and small, old and new about the evolution of print and digital media
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Many expected print would have met its demise by now, yet somehow it battles on. In part two of this round up Mark Sutton talks to five publishers, large and small, old and new to find out how each is performing and what evolution is required to keep the media business alive…

For part one in this media analysis, covering Case, CTC Magazine, Factory Media, Future Publishing and Road.cc, see here.

The Albion
Launching April 1st, The Albion is the brainchild of photographer and pro rider Daniel Benson, ex-editor of Ride UK Steve Bancroft, George Marshall and Tim March.
Confirming that the launch is definitely not an April fools, March tells BikeBiz: “The Albion was started by four of us with our own money. We have no backer, but our own credit cards and piggy banks. I, the old man on the mountain, am older than old school and will be publishing the mag. Steve Bancroft has been on the scene since he was a kid. George Marshall and Daniel Benson have been itinerant wanderers after a good time that involves BMX bikes.”
Slapping down the presumption that the magazine will be solely for the older, discerning rider, March added: “We haven’t singled out one group of riders to focus on. The Albion will be full of quality content cover-to-cover that will be enjoyed all riders regardless of age, from the ten year getting their first bike, to the 40 year old rider who can’t bare to throw away his old VHS riding videos. We have all agreed that we didn’t want to worry about running full pages of text if the article requires it. I’d hate to think BMXers couldn’t tackle a full page of writing.”
The Albion will be distributed by a number of wholesalers and retail stores. All, account holding BMX shops will be supplied by 4Down, Seventies, CSG UK and Mint Distribution, as well as by the mail order shops like Alans, Edwardes, Volt, The Source, Crucial, Alpha and Evans among others. If a shop advertises they’ll be sent a stack of mags and POS to display them in.
The only detail March dare tell BikeBiz about the first issue was simply “we have an exclusive interview with a superhero.” Intriguing stuff.

Triathlete’s World
Since launch in February 2009, Triathlete’s World has become a favoured source for information on training, events and kit reviews within the sector among new and improving triathletes up and down the UK.
The publisher’s subscriptions are up more than 100 per cent year-on-year and its Audit Bureau of Circulation figure, published on February 17th 2011, saw average monthly circulation rise to 13,160.
The firm also launched www.triathletesworld.co.uk in December 2009 to complement the magazine and the website now boasts 35,000 unique users a month.
Alison Hamlett, editor of the magazine tells BikeBiz: “We’re proud of this growth in a tough market and plan to build on it throughout 2011 and beyond.”
Hamlett was also awarded ‘Editor of the Year 2010’ in the Sport, Leisure and Health category by the British Society of Magazine Editors.



Singletrack
Having just broken through 5,000 subscribers, BikeBiz Award winner Singletrack’s fortunes are on the up. This time two years ago the publisher was rebuilding its website after an invasion by hackers.
This time around the online portal is recording around 450,000 unique users per month, which publisher Mark Alker says is up over 50 per cent compared to the same period 12 months ago.
“In the same period we delivered 7.2 million page views and delivered 48 million ad impressions,” said Alker. “In addition, just short of 2,500 current subscribers regularly access our exclusive premier content on our website.”
The publisher sells on average 14,000 copies per issue, though Alker confirms that digital viewing is the fastest growing format as the internet age has well and truly set in.
Editor Chipps Chippendale adds: “We have plans to ride bigger and further, and then write about it all. Features are now getting so multimedia that journalists have become filmmakers and riders have become stuntmen. Also, as it’s our tenth anniversary year, so we intend to push that to the limit with reader rides, trade drinks and special merchandise to commemorate the fact.”



Shred
Now on the brink of its 55th issue, Shred is still going strong in bike shops around the country.
As is increasingly the case in the media world, Steve Toze’s business is quickly diversifying into events market, as well as moving rapidly with the digital age.
Coming soon, Shred magazine will be available in a downloadable application to be available free-of-charge on iTunes. The application is scheduled to launch during March.
The South West is also to benefit from a further diversification in the business model. Shred Events is now to offer mountain bike, road and multisport events including the Shred Classic, Deer Hunter Duathlon and RaceFace-sponsored Circus of Dirt.
During the winter of 2010, the publisher also linked with the National Trust, creating its own racing team, which will tackle both regional and national events. Again, this team officially launches in March, taking part in cross country and road rides.



A to B
2010 was a bit of a rollercoaster, according to A to B publisher David Henshaw, who has also recently published a book dubbed Electric Bicycles, available now through Cordee.
“We’ve been producing ‘A to B’ and its predecessor ‘The Folder’ since 1993 and never seen anything like this. At first the recession did nothing to us, then it hit hard and we lost a lot of subscribers. But things recovered a fair bit in the last months of 2010, so we’re pretty optimistic again,” says Henshaw.
“On top of this has been the change to digital media and digital shopping. We thought the digital version of A to B would take over, but it’s settled at around 15 per cent of the paper numbers. On the other hand, about a third of the paper subscribers now pay a little more to get digital as well, and that seems to be the trend.”
Having decided to take advertising on its website, as many firms moved away from print, Henshaw tells BikeBiz that web revenues now represent 50 per cent of the print figure, a change that occured in very little time.
“With over 1,000 hits a day it reaches a big audience, and they are mainly people looking to buy bikes,” explains Henshaw. “It now looks as though web advertising may overtake print revenues in the next few months. The other big change is in the shear breadth of places your words get to through digital media of various kinds. Ten years ago, we printed a magazine for 2,000 people and by and large that was our readership. Five years later, we grudgingly released an article or two onto the net after six months. Today, anything and everything goes straight out and is openly available to anyone, through dozens of sources.”

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