The State of Knife Magazines & the Web, Part II

Winds a blowing

In Part I of this series, we established our traditional print knife mags are primarily using their websites to generate new subscriptions for their print mags. Then we introduced potential problems they face if they give Web users what they want, while trying to maintain their content for their print editions.

Today, we want to look at the some other winds that are blowing against these print magazines and how they will be forced to change their business models, if they are to survive in today’s Web-oriented society.

Magazines Revenue Hit Hard

As reported in the New York Times, American magazines lost ad revenue- significant revenue, 58,340 pages worth of ad pages in 2009. Between 08 & 09, magazines lost, on average, one-quarter of their ad pages.

Is this decline a function of advertisers shifting their marketing dollars elsewhere or simply a result of their cutting back due to the economy? Don’t know, but it hit magazines hard either way.

Even the famous Sports Illustrated Magazine’s Swim Suit Edition has been impacted by all this-

The 2009 swim suit edition had 1.1 million readers, which is down from 1.5 million. The magazine had 70 print ads, which is 1/3 of the ad pages it usually runs. The President of the firm is talking about how they are using “new” channels (READ: THE WEB) for this edition’s “content.”

Many magazines also lowered their per-copy subscription prices to offset the loss in circulation.

Nate Ives in AdvertisingAge Magazine February 5, 2010 edition states,

“Nearly two-thirds of 344 magazines analyzed dropped their per-copy subscription prices between 2002 and the first half of 2009, but nearly 75% of those price-choppers also saw individually paid subscriptions decline anyway, according to an analysis of Audit Bureau of Circulations reports by Jack Hanrahan, the media-agency veteran who’s now an industry consultant and publisher of the CircMatters newsletter.”

Before we simply assume, “It’s the Economy, Stupid!” We must ask- “Are we witnessing a shift in what consumers want today?”

We Develop New Habits-

There is no doubt consumers’ habits are changing. More folks get their news and information online today than ever before. And I am certain the younger generations are already accustomed to using the Web as their primary source of information & entertainment.

We are in the Instant Information Age. We want news real-time, as it’s happening. We want information when we, the consumers, want it. The Web provides for both of these demands. Waiting on a monthly magazine to come out can be frustrating if the information is time sensitive. If it is not, and the articles are simply informational, then it is a function of if that information is exclusive, or is it provided elsewhere, like on the Web.

Form, Function and Place

MRI (Mediamark Research & Intelligence) MEDIA CONSUMPTION PATHWAYS IN AN EVOLVING WORLD reports-

“Ritual and current day passion for new media aside, there are some pragmatic reasons that arose within all of the generational groups that determine a reader’s choice of online versus offline. Much of print’s strength comes from the obvious portability and practicality in the commute as well as in the bathroom. Many talked about reading in bed. On the other hand, many of our participants spend a portion of their day in front of a computer, for work, school and recreation. Grabbing a few headlines in a short break at work is far less conspicuous than reading a newspaper or magazine.”

New Technology Helps Creates New Habits

How many folks subscribe to RSS Feeds or surf the Web on their phones today? I think you’d be surprised actually and the invention of Apple’s iPhone catapulted us into mobile computing unlike any other technology gadget.

So what does all this mean? It means it is becoming the norm to access the web everywhere, so the argument of “taking a pub to the bathroom because it is portable” is not as relevant.

Don’t like to stare at a small screen?- I hear ya. Pretty hard to see that Johnny Stout custom starting at it on your blackberry or iPhone isn’t it? So, isn’t that screen-size limitation going to deter folks from reading Web-content and will end up keeping the print mags safe for a while longer? Hold on there. Not so fast-

New Generation of Web Readers

Fast forward to portable media devices, like Amazon’s Kindle. The Kindle is a handheld device for reading e-books bought from Amazon. My 14-year-old daughter loves hers.

Apple's iPad

Last month, Apple announced the iPad for mobile websufing and its screen is the size of a regular print magazine. It is not targeting power uses either, but the folks who are computer users by virtue of their phones.

That’s right. Web content is mobile now, even without the smartphones.

In fact, an article on Seeking Alpha came out today showing that the website of the New York Times, the nation’s most popular newspaper, received 75 million page views from smartphones and the iPod just in the month of December 2009 and how the iPad is better than for reading the nytimes.com. Their website is already as popular as their print edition.

And you know what? Your wrist won’t hurt cause there isn’t a mouse. It’s a touch screen instead. And curling up on the couch? No prob. These babies are highly portable.

The Hearst Corp just announced its electronic device for reading newspapers and magazines. It’s called the Skiff Reader.

If this new electronic platform is too George Jetson and you have doubts if they will ever take off? Consider this-

Magazine Publishing Biggies- Conde’ Nast, Hearst, Meredith, News Corp and Time announced in Dec. 09 a joint venture to develop a digital storefront for consumers to enjoy their favorite magazine content on portable digital devices.

“For the consumer, this digital initiative will provide access to an extraordinary selection of engaging content products, all customized for easy download on the device of their choice, including smartphones, e-readers and laptops,” explained John Squires, the venture’s interim managing director.

The digital initiatives underway by the leading publishers are staggering. The Atlantic Magazine, for example, announced in December 09, it was joining with Amazon for its magazine to be downloaded and read on the Kindle. And yet, the biggest buzz for the print media industry is the development of iPhone and iPad apps for content delivery.

Are consumers now using a new medium for content delivery because they want to or is the invention of web readers an attempt by a handful of companies to change our reading habits to online vs print?

The Skiff Web Reader- Not only highly portable, but also flexible.

The way I see it the answer doesn’t matter because in the end- we will change our habits and at some point- sooner or later- we’ll all be reading online as the norm.

Bottom-line

So, what does all this mean for our traditional print knife magazines? Your guess is as good as mine, but I say the publishing industry is changing, either out of necessity, or survival, or in anticipation of future demand. Many are now trying to get ahead of the curve as we speak.

And if you think knife pictures don’t look as good on the Web as they do in the glossy mags, then you haven’t check out SharpByCoop.com lately.

All I have to say is our knife magazines better take heed cause it is not a matter of if, only when.

Published in: on March 4, 2010 at 10:52 pm  Comments (6)  
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Share the joy of collecting knives

Knife collecting is fun.

I think we’d all agree to that, right? But do you know what is equally as much fun? It’s what I’m going to call- Sharing the joy.

Sure, we all love tracking down new, in my case new old, knives to buy and all that is a part of that, but if you want to experience a different level of fun, then help a new collector.

What got me off on this today? This did-

Good morning Scott. Thanks for your reply.

I am pretty much a novice with elephant toenails, but am very captivated by the big funky old time nostalgia look and size. Most of the knives I have collected so far are bowies and conventional slipjoints. I have not ventured into the ancient past yet.

Any advice for starters?

If you know me at all, this was all she wrote. Katy bar the door. Advice, oh my, where do I even begin.

When collectors seek advice the responsibility we have to guide them is tremendous. Think about it. And, I bet if you had to do a quick list of the top 5 recommendations you could do that as fast as you could write, right? I couldn’t type fast enough.

What I found as I offered my suggestions was I enjoyed sharing the joy- helping this collector explore the world of elephant toenails.

So, this collector wanting some advice is what promoted today’s post here.

Want to experience a different level of fun? Then share the joy!

Published in: on February 27, 2010 at 9:33 am  Comments (2)  
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The State of Knife Magazines & the Web Part I

A recent editorial by Mark Zalesky in Knife World Magazine caused me to stop and think about the state of our Knife Magazines and the Web today.

Mark writes Irons in the Fire each month and in the February 2010 edition he shares with their readers the reasons for not publishing current, or past editions, articles or features online. I would link to the editorial so you can read it for yourself, but…

One of Mark’s reasons, among many, for KW not going digital is a concern about sustaining their revenue.

“But once one factors in the cost of material, preparation, setting it up and maintaining it online….generating enough income to make the effort pay for itself is one hard row to hoe.”

OK, that’s Knife World’s position for not publishing online, so what about our other Knife Magazines? We can tell a lot about their business models by looking at how they are using their websites today.

Knife magazines and their websites

What about Blade Magazine? When you visit their website, you quickly get the impression Blade is stuck between publishing fresh content for their website and selling print magazine subscriptions. In fact, the moment you hit their site a “subscribe” window pops up and won’t go away until you click it closed, or subscribe. Clearly their business model is to use their website to sell magazine subscriptions, or CDs of back editions. To their credit the site does include some articles and a blog.

Then take Tactical Knives Magazine, part of the Tactical-Life family- Tactical Knives publishes its traditional print magazine every other month. Their website is also used to sell subscriptions or back editions but they take a different approach. Once each edition comes out, they will put up the contents. I’m not sure of the lag time between when each print edition hits the street and when they add it to their website, but why subscribe if each edition is published online?

“Stuck in the middle with you…”

The traditional print magazines are stuck-not just our knife magazines, but the whole print magazine industry. Their business model is to generate ad revenue and sell subscriptions. If they go online with their content, folks will probably quit subscribing to their print magazine. Then their circulation drops and advertisers quit running ads. On the other hand, web users today want content- substantive content. The trend is clearly going that direction. Sure some folks may want to curl up on the couch with a print edition, but more folks are comfortable reading online than ever before, and that trend will continue too (more on this in Part II).

Flip the switch?

You’d think traditional print magazines could just flip a switch and go totally online. Think of the huge cost savings- no more printing, paper, or postage. Sell online advertising and move on without a hitch. Well, it’s a bit more complicated than that. The challenge our print knife magazines face is the continual operating expenses during the time to get the new online business model up and running. And they may not be able to have the same amount of ad space in their digital magazine as they do in their print editions, which are very ad heavy.

Plus, another challenge is most content online today is FREE. While there are a few online magazines that charge for access to their articles, it is too early to see if the other content providers are going that way. A publication must have an extremely strong brand or exclusive content to pull it off right now. If the others follow, then the norm becomes for consumers to pay for content, if they don’t follow, then it will be difficult to be in the minority.

Traditional magazines simply can’t make the shift to publishing exclusively online without additional risks. At face value it appears they will have to generate additional revenue streams, like charging fees to join their forums, putting up a paywall to access their magazine or even pay-per-click articles, like the New York Times does with their archives.

My opinion is they are right dead in the middle of a paradigm shift and the answers depend on how you look at it. However, there are clearly other strong forces blowing right now- we’ll look at what they are in the second installment.

Stay tuned for Part II

MAILER-DAEMON is a sad thing when it comes to knife collectors

I was rummaging around my files today- my email files and folders. Frequently, I’ll go back and read through old emails from knife collectors.

Might sound odd, but I find the topics interesting, plus to see what knives we talked about. Sometimes the collector shared with me actual knives in their collection too.

Today I tried to contact a collector from an old email only to have the email bounce back as undeliverable.

It’s the ding of the Inbox seconds after pushing send, only to see the dreaded MAILER-DAEMONRemote host said: 550 MAILBOX NOT FOUND. I get sick to my stomach every time.

And in some cases, it means the collector has passed away.

It’s a sad thing. When it happens I sit there for a minute thinking about what might have happened to the collector only to then wonder about his knives.

Not all collectors have huge collections that force the family to have to decide what to do with them. No, in many cases, there may only be a few knives, so what happens then?

Today, I tried to reconnect with a gentleman who contacted me back in 2003 about his stag HSB toenail. I ran across his email and thought I’ll just see how he was doing. Then the much feared MAILER-DAEMON showed up almost instantly.

Then what do you do? Most of the time I don’t know anything more than a name, sometimes only a first name. It’s not like I can walk down the street and knock on his door either.

I can’t help but wonder what happened to the knife he told me about too. Unfortunately, I can’t assume the family recognized the knife as valuable and rare. I’m afraid to think it was given to little Spike to play with.

Published in: on January 26, 2010 at 5:36 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Buying old rare knives under the influence

Now that I have your attention- here’s the deal. When we lock in on a knife to buy…sometimes our emotions can override our common sense. We are under the influence at that point; we are intoxicated. We are buying under the influence.

Keep your wits

When you finally find one the one and only knife you’ve been looking for don’t get carried away with emotion. Keep your wits about you before you pull the trigger.

While we all have gotten swept up in the tide of “I got to have this knife,” when in that situation there may be good reasons for not buying it. It could be it is a counterfeit and your gut is telling you to run; it could be the seller is of questionable reputation and the knife is too good to be true or it could simply be due to the knife’s condition the price that is way too high (then it’s just a “business decision”).

Word to the wise

My point here is not to be suspicious of every knife or seller you meet, but, on the other hand, I had a wise man once tell me…

“you have a gut feeling for a reason….so you had better listen to it.”

Most knives and sellers are fine, but if your gut screams at you….LISTEN. If you don’t feel you have enough experience then get a reputable dealer’s opinion.

Many knives are just too expensive (I’d rather say, “Valuable”) to throw all reason and logic to the wind. Yes, values continue to increase, but if you have reason to question a deal…then question it. Don’t blow it off by telling yourself that it is probably OK, when in actuality your gut is letting you know there is something that doesn’t feel right.

Take the heat

You may take some heat for your decision. I once had a dealer try to sell me a “Near Mint” toenail for a really big price. It was a Case Brothers with a really nice etch on the blade. And you had better believe he wanted a big wad of cash for it, so I gave that toenail a very close look. The etch was VERY APPEALING. I was under its influence…intoxicated by that knife. There is no doubt I would love to have a CB with an etch that nice.

But, in the end I passed. I overrode my emotions. There were a number of questionable “things” about that knife that told me it was possibly a rework and it was simply too much money to risk. In the end, I listened to my gut feeling. I took heat too. That dealer told me I didn’t know a good knife when I saw one. He was P O’ d (that told me I made the right decision too, incidentally).

Why are you offering it to me?

Also, the other thing to think about is this- If a dealer is offering you a “one of a kind” killer knife (now don’t take this wrong, OK?), but, this is the way I think…if it is so great, why is he/she trying to sell it to me? Dealers have a Rolodex of buyers, so if you are offered a knife that is so rare…so good, then why didn’t he just pick up the phone and call one of his regular buyers? Instead he is now offering it to you, or me.

Most knives are fine. And if it is a moderately priced knife then that is one thing, but if it is a price you know is a near record price, then ask yourself this question-  “Why does he still have that knife and is now trying to sell it to me?” You may have just gotten lucky- at the right place at the right time- but, maybe not, so just step back and don’t get caught up in the moment…under the influence. Don’t buy drunk.

I promise you, in most cases, if the knife is that rare and authentic…you and I would have never even known it was available.

Published in: on January 8, 2010 at 8:28 pm  Comments (4)  
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The Dilemma of Knife Condition Grades- The good, the bad and the ugly

New collectors of older knives are faced with a serious dilemma. Simply put- they don’t have a frame of reference to grade a knife’s condition. And the knife price guides we all use don’t define knife condition grades with absolute specificity.

Setting aside the brand of the knife, condition grading (the “scoring” a knife’s condition) is the most commonly accepted practice for determining a knife’s value.

This may not sound like a big deal, but it is. You may not remember the anxiety you felt when you first started out trying to figure out whether a knife you were looking at was worth the asking price based on its condition or not. I do. The implications meant money- in some cases, lots of money.

Say you find a knife with the proper knife operations (walk and talk), the handles are crack and chip free, the blades are full, but one of the blade’s tang stamps isn’t legible anymore, so what is that knife’s grade?

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Published in: on December 4, 2009 at 4:26 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Our Social Responsibility- What NOT to do with your knife

People wielding knives can do a lot of harm. Knives in the wrong hands can be weapons of death. We know that. Here at CNJ, we proudly promote proper knife use and the hobby of knife collecting, and yet, we use this post as a reminder of what NOT to do with your knife.

Man denied sex in car, threatens woman with knife | threatens, car, woman – News – Northwest Florida Daily News

Woman accused of holding a knife to an anti-abortion demonstrator’s neck – BostonHerald.com

Interview with Young Pro-Life Counselor Threatened with Knife to Throat

Woman, 49, found dead inside SUV may have killed herself with knives – San Jose Mercury News

Man cuts girlfriend’s dad with knife, deputies allege | The Dispatch | Davidson County’s News Source | Lexington, NC

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Published in: on December 1, 2009 at 12:00 pm  Leave a Comment  
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New Eco-Friendly Cutlery?

To you who do have “Save the Planet” or “Go Green” bumper stickers, I’ve already staked-out I’m a Green Guy too, and yet, when I find a company championing a cause (or stirring it up) and then offering a solution it benefits from, it irks me. (I’m not talking about the ol’ capitalistic axiom of- find a need and fill it- here either).

You may or may not be aware plastics are under attack. I guess they don’t biodegrade very well, or something. Since we are about all forms of cutlery here at CNJ, my radar picked this up.

Bamboo Cutlery

Bamboo Cutlery (or Slips) is designed as an Eco-friendly replacement to those eternal plastic forks, knives and spoons, but before you assume this product is simply Chop Sticks- guess again.

BUT WAIT!

Before Al Gore gives all the credit to this Bamboo Cutlery maker for saving our planet, did you know MASAYOSHI TAKETJCHI was granted a patent already for Bamboo Cutlery? Yep, it’s true- way back on June 27, 1916.

His patent application even adds- “The object of my invention is to produce articles of this kind (knives and forks) which will be attractive, cheap in costs and which may be thrown away after use…”

Published in: on November 30, 2009 at 7:32 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Happy Thanksgiving!

Published in: on November 26, 2009 at 8:11 am  Leave a Comment  
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CNJ Editorial- Just what is a knife collector club? It is time for the question to be asked.

smallmensfashionsturnofcenturyA much talked about topic here at CNJ is how times change. We look at knife history and current events, and oftentimes compare the two. The methods, materials, habits of collectors, preferences, knife companies starting up and closing down, sales and advertising methods, etc. Today, we are fortunate to witness, firsthand, another change and one that started only recently, but will forevermore change the knife industry and knife collecting.

communityvirtualMore and more knife enthusiasts are online today. Some knife folks use the web to further their knife hobby, while others are finding out they are in fact collectors and didn’t realize it, and others still are becoming collectors as a direct result of the web. The phenomenon we’re clearly seeing is all these folks beginning to congregate online too. Yes, they are like-minded in their passion for knives and they are coming together- online.

The online congregating of these knife collectors leads me to one question-

When, if ever, does an online place knife collectors gather become a knife club?

Many of these online places are more than simply posting boards of topics and replies too. I know of one that’s a true social network, much like facebook or MySpace, and yet it is exclusively for connecting knife collectors- creating association between folks who have the common bond of knife collecting. It is a community of knife collectors.

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