Multimedia seen as the future for boating magazines

MIAMI BEACH — Boating magazines aren’t going away, but editors and writers need to be aware of new media and incorporate it into their business plans, according to a trio of industry publishing experts who spoke this morning at the Miami International Boat Show.

Efram “Skip” Zimbalist, chairman and CEO of Active Interest Media; Duncan McIntosh, founder of Duncan McIntosh Co.; and Glenn Hughes, group publisher of Bonnier Marine Group, a division of Bonnier Corp., spoke this morning at a breakfast sponsored by Boating Writers International.

Zimbalist predicted a slow, gradual shift from print to electronic versions of publications. People read magazines to get ideas about destinations or products to buy, but then they go to the Internet to do the research.

In the future, boating publications will still offer the same editorial content people want, but also add and expand the multimedia aspect that will continue to grow in popularity.

Hughes described the print product as “under the weather” but said it will come back. With fewer people buying boats, it’s only natural that some industry magazines will fall by the wayside, he said.

In 2008, 525 magazines “died,” according to Hughes, but 715 magazines were introduced. He advised the media not to give up and to be creative to weather the current economic storm.

Zimbalist described it as “Darwinian.”

“It is what happens in times like these,” he said. “I think there will be a weeding out.”

However, he added, boating publications are unique in that a high number of titles are often needed to reach specific niches. For example, sportfishing and lake fishing are very different, and it would be hard to satisfy both populations with one publication.

McIntosh put the current economic situation into perspective by noting that during the Carter administration in the 1970s, unemployment and inflation were at double digits, mortgage rates were 15 percent or higher, and gas prices doubled as rationing was introduced.

None of that is the case during the current recession, he noted. However, it’s only natural that some publications won’t be able to weather the storm.

“I guess we keep doing our thing and try to do it better than we did in the past,” McIntosh said.

— Beth Rosenberg


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