You sir/madam, yes you, reading these words. Did you realise we make a non-internet version of Carve?
A highly flexible, extremely portable, easily shareable, high-definition, full colour, chunk of recyclable, wood-fibre based, renewable source, entertainment technology?
Yes folks, it doesn’t need batteries, a power source or any interweb wifiness. It costs very little, brings a lot of joy and hopefully inspires you to go out there and do that there surfing. It is what we like to call in the trade a “magazine”.
A certain Mr Gutenberg was the first to start knocking out printed goods on his new fangled press in his arches workshop in the east end of Europe some time around 1440. Being based in Germany his early works were guidebooks to places where men could drink pilsner, discover the best and worst (sorry) sausages and cavort with busty Bavarian maidens. He also did the odd nightclub flyer at night when things were quiet…
He started a revolution that disseminated ideas and knowledge to the common man. Reading material was no longer hand copied by monks and hence not controlled by the church. A knowledge explosion happened shortly afterwards. If it wasn’t for him then who knows where we’d be, would the Guardian, Private Eye, Carve and many other genre defining titles ever have seen the light of day?
Surf magazines have been the cultural core of our sport/art/hobby thing for 50 plus years now. Alongside surf films they define the era, reflecting what people are riding, where they are surfing, the characters and views of the time. They’re little papery time capsules. Of course some end up in the landfill to become the lining for seagull nests but the bulk survive for years. Collected, treasured and re-read … Not something you’ll ever say about a web post.
They are part of the glue that holds the surf community together and that has great value. I may be biased as I’ve been enthralled with surf mags for 20+ years now but a good surf mag can’t be beat. You should be chuffed, the last decade has been the golden age of the British surf media. You’re lucky people, twenty years ago the mags weren’t so hot. Brit mags used to exist on the C-grade photos the American and Aussie mags didn’t want. Now we are running A+ images of our riders, our waves, shot by Brit photogs on a regular basis. Our riders are international names. The surge in talent level in British and Irish surfing and the push into the cold, hollow reaches of our end of Europe has helped things along.
Things are good. Well… Except the oft-quoted ‘death of print media’. Death is a slightly over the top word for it, it’s not dead, it’s just evolving.
Print media means magazines and newspapers. Which are very different beasts with different aims, objectives and readership. The newspaper industry used to be huge; most cities had four or five papers providing the people with news, ads from local businesses and classified ads from local people all in all a useful service. The last fifty years have seen that number go from four down to one.
The problem isn’t print is dying … it’s that the papers aren’t making the obscene profits they are used to. The immediacy of the internet, especially Twitter, is purpose built for breaking news. Rolling TV news: another kick in the balls. The big, national newspapers are ahead of the game in the online world making cutting edge websites that reinforce their titles. Even if the DM is mainly focused on what Kim K is up to. But newspapers are evolving with analysis and reportage that, even though the internet generation would dismiss as TL;DR*, is valued and needed. Not every story can be reduced to 300 words of SEO friendly copy.
On the magazine side it depends on your content and target market. The cheap men’s mags are gone, screwed themselves as you can look at nudey folk, talk balls about sports and watch people hurt themselves all day on the interweb for free. The higher end titles like GQ are okay because people still like to read good long form journalism and they have premium advertisers. Niche mags, like Carve and many other sport/hobby titles only appeal to a small section of society and hence the content and information they provide isn’t so readily available online. They are also increasingly a premium thing: heavy paper, timeless content, photos and design to die for. They have evolved away from being disposable to collectable.
As for surfing websites, sure we feed you daily goodness, there are plenty. But show me a website that engages you for any length of time and gives you the experience of reading a good surf mag. People spend on average about two minutes on most websites. Pop in, read a post, watch a vid, go back to Facebook. A good mag will give ten or twenty times that. Quality time without distraction immersed in the good gravy contained between the papery folds. Sure websites are free but that can’t continue indefinitely, unless you want the professional surf media to die. Photos and words cost money, trips cost money, our website exists because the magazine pays for the photographers and writers to do what they do. And if you aren’t paying for the sites then you’ll be paying for it in endless ads in your face, or thinly guised advertorials.
Magazines exist for a reason: it’s because they work. Not to mention the fact that taking your laptop or iPad into the shitter is still considered just plain weird. Print maybe a centuries old technology but it’s not fit for the dustbin of history just yet…
*TL;DR: Too Long; Didn’t Read.