Print Media.

I have subscriptions to multiple cycling magazines.
 
I used to get all giggly when they showed up on my doorstep, and immediately find a quiet place to pour over every page. As long as it was related in some small way to road cycling, I would read it.
 
Then, as with everything I'm exposed to for extended periods of time, I started to notice the faults. They weighed on me, and my enthusiasm waned considerably. Certain subscriptions  I dropped because the lack of editing made them almost unreadable. I must now contrast that with this blog, because small errors only add weight behind whatever flimsy argument I'm presenting. With print media, misspellings and other errors just make them look incompetent. There's actually somebody that's supposed to check for that crap, and that person is usually highly eduficated in writin'. If an ignorant bumpkin like me can catch and fixate on them, what the hell is wrong with the editorial staff?
 
Other subscriptions I dropped because the content was laughable. A certain magazine started out with decent potential, but soon figured out that extensive reader-generated content and rehashed manufacturer press releases were cheap ways to fill pages. Another made such an effort to appeal to a certain gender to right long-standing industry biases that I was no longer interested in the articles. Still another chose to spend more time on lifestyle articles, lovingly describing artisanal coffee grinders or the perfect paella and devoting limited space to actually riding. Real writing that conveyed the simple joys of the ride have been replaced by a new "Ultimate Core-Building Workout for Your Best Century Ever!™" every month. I lost interest. I dropped subscriptions. Here and there I would pick up an issue in a bookstore or airport to kill some time, but that was about it.
 
The magazine I thought best represented all that I consider awesome about road cycling (and some extra stuff too) was Paved, produced by the author of Dog in a Hat, Joe Parkin. That magazine really understood how to convey the road cycling world and all of its variants while still keeping it first and foremost about the riding. Initially conceived as a one-issue product, it lasted a few years and consistently put out a product far superior that of its peers. Of course, I put in my subscription renewal in just in time for the title to fold, so instead I got a magazine I had little interest in. It's a shame, but I still thumb through the archive from time to time and marvel how something so competent ever got published in the first place.
 
So, what I'm left with are unsatisfying magazines that usually stay unread until my toddler destroys them. The subscriptions usually amount to about $10 annually for each title, so I don't feel disgusted enough to cancel, but at the same time I know they could and should do better. I know the publishing world has evolved considerably since Al Gore invented the interweb, but seriously...
 
I was talking the other day with a fellow Mighty Mite coach about it. Her brother and sister-in-law are two well-regarded cycling photojournalists who travel the world following professional cycling. A publication was pressuring them to provide content free of charge, because "it was valuable exposure". I'm sure you can pay for life on the road and lots of camera gear with all of that "valuable exposure". I think The Oatmeal summed it up best. The last time I checked, the only stories of actual riding or compelling pictures in that printed-on-archival-quality-paper publication were written or at least photographed by that very talented couple. That magazine will not be renewed. I can get my wine suggestions elsewhere.
 
To be honest, I don't know why I keep subscribing to any of them. I learn about technological advances on the internet far before I see it in print. Magazine reviews rarely influence my bike tastes, because I've found through long and expensive experiments that their preferences and my own rarely mesh. I've been subscribing long enough to see the periodic regurgitating of the exact same articles again and again, for a fresh crop of readers who don't know the difference. I can almost sing along with my eyes closed.
 
Maybe it's the same reason I buy paper books instead of downloading them. Hardback books that have a heft to them and take up twice as much space on the bookshelf as they should. Books that may never be read again, but cost four times as much as the digital version. I just like that tactile experience of turning the pages. It makes the experience more meaningful to me than clicking on a mouse and staring at a screen. I can immerse myself in the subject without interruption. For me, that distinction is enough.
 
However, the publishers are trying my patience.
 


 

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