ALAS POOR YORICK
In the 1950’s when I was a lad on my parent’s dairy farm in upstate New York the arrival of the latest issue of one of the major outdoor magazines, Outdoor Life, Sports Afield or Field and Stream, was the high point of the month for a young boy that ravenously consumed anything in print that even remotely addressed hunting and fishing. Each of these magazines was read and reread from cover to cover and then lovingly filed away for future reference. I still have some of these childhood treasures; special issues that contained articles that I thought were especially interesting or written by a favorite writer on a subject of special interest to me. There were Tips from Tap, Laughs by Zern, Fly-fishing techniques by Brooks, Humorous stories by Ford, and other great writers too numerous to mention. Those stories took me to places I could only dream about and on adventures that I was certain I would never personally experience.
In time other publications appeared that were more specialized, invoking the same sense of anticipation as I awaited the arrival of the next issue in my mail box. Magazines that specifically addressed fly fishing, shooting sports and fly tying replace the more general content magazines of my childhood. They were just as ravenously consumed as those previous magazines and many of them were also added to my growing collection.
Ultimately some of my own written ramblings appeared in print in some of those same magazines and I became an editor/publisher in my own right for several publications. I had come full circle from a reader, to a writer and finally to a producer.
In the last decade we have entered the information age; the age of computers, smart phones and the Internet. All this has radically changed the face of the publishing industry and the way we access information. The print industry, whether magazines or books, is experiencing a fundamental changed as more and more people turn to instant media for their information and entertainment. Magazines have experienced a drastic decrease in subscribers, and in response have drastically cut content and decreased their publication schedule. More and more magazines are published by-monthly or quarterly and more and more pages are devoted to advertisements to help cover the lost revenue caused by the decreasing number of subscribers.
Much of this mirrors the change that we have witnessed over the last few short years in many areas of our lives. In my life time I have witnessed the renaissance of fly fishing and the remaking of that same sport in ways that the practitioners of the art of fly fishing from just a few short years ago would be hard pressed to recognize it today.
It is likely too soon to write a requiem for the publishing industry and the plethora of books and magazines that were once the mainstay of the information conduit but if the fat lady has yet to sing her final dirge she can certainly be heard tuning up. In this age of instant everything; of blogs, online videos, and information on demand one is hard pressed to see how many of these former forms of information can survive.
“Alas poor Yorick I knew him well Horatio.”