Monday, May 8, 2017

Saying farewell to an old reliable

In a pile next to my bed today, there was a stack of magazines waiting to be read. There were at least two dozen of them, many of which at one point I'd started going through, but then paused in mid-read, leaving them open to the last page I was on. Doing that allowed me to know where I could pick up (I've never been much of a dog-ear person).

At the very bottom of that pile was the March/April edition of Popular Photography (right), which had been opened to a page near the front of the publication.

Shortly before going through the pile somewhat frantically this morning, I had learned in what struck me as a backward kind of way that the March/April edition would be PP's last. The current owners, Bonnier Corp., apparently made the decision to halt publication in March because of declining ad revenue, and it notified staff at the time. I found out about it Monday, two months after the decision was made, when I went to grab my mail this morning and found a copy of Popular Science magazine, which I knew I hadn't ordered.

Inside the clear plastic covering of Popular Science, there was a note of explanation, saying PP had shuttered and that to fill out the remainder of my paid subscription to PP, I was being offered Popular Science. I was told that if I didn't want Popular Science, I could instead receive one of a handful of other magazines (Flying, Field and Stream, Boating, Scuba Diving, Motorcyclists, Sailing World and Saveur).

I have no interest in any of those other publications, so it looks like I'll be getting Popular Science at least until my PP subscription officially expires.

At one time, PP had been the largest circulated image-related magazine, and according to the blurb about PP at Wikipedia, it had double the editorial staff of any other similar publication. I wouldn't declare that the magazine was the industry Bible, but from all indications, it certainly was revered and appreciated by pros and amateurs/enthusiasts alike.

There are online remnants of the publication still accessible, but I'm a print-first, hands-on guy when it comes to reading material. And PP was one publication in which I actually spent time browsing the ads as much as the editorial content, and I have to believe other photography enthusiasts did the same. From my experience, photographers are quite particular about their gear. They're always on the lookout for deals when they need something or are itching to make a change. So in that respect, I'm a bit perplexed why advertisers abandoned it.

I had subscribed to PP for at least 10 years, and for a couple of those years, I'd even purchased subscriptions for a son and niece who had expressed interest in photography. Both appreciated my gesture. Every time I got a new edition of PP in the mail, I would turn first to the gear and equipment test section. I did the same with Shutterbug (a similar magazine to which I also subscribe and which also has a new gear and equipment test section). PP and Shutterbug, I'm sure, furnished me valuable information on most of the cameras and lenses I would buy over the past decade or so.

I will miss Popular Photography. I can't help but worry that bodes poorly for Shutterbug, but I hope not. I hope Shutterbug has the financial legs that PP did not have.

I need to have a good photography publication in that pile that stays at arm's length near my bed.

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