Wednesday, January 9, 2013

A Very Sad Day

Today I received some very sad news.  While not a total surprise, it still came as a shock to read the following press release that was forwarded from my editor at Comics Buyer's Guide Magazine today:

"January 9, 2013 – Krause Publications, a division of F+W Media, Inc., announced today the closure of Comics Buyer’s Guide effective with the March 2013 issue. The Company cited general poor market conditions and forces working against the title’s sustainability including the downturn in print advertising and the proliferation of free content available online for this highly specialized industry."

“We continuously evaluate our portfolio and analyze our content strategy to determine how well we are meeting consumer and Company goals,” said David Blansfield, President. ”We take into consideration the marketplace we serve and the opportunities available for each of our magazine titles. After much analysis and deliberation, we have determined to cease publication of Comics Buyer’s Guide.”

I suppose in some ways the writing was already on the wall.  Print media has been in a downward spiral for several years now, and in all fairness, CBG was still around longer than many long running national publications, like U.S. News and World Report.  They even outlasted Newsweek by just one month.  

However, despite obvious issues like "general poor market conditions," there were other factors, perhaps smaller in scope, that gradually eroded away at the magazine during the last few years.  Perhaps one of them can best be described by two horrible words:  Call Center.

Like many corporations, the parent corporation made the decision a few years ago to outsource subscriber services to an outside call center, or "help desk" operation that would handle all subscriber issues, such as payments, replacement of damaged issues, and subscription renewals.  I think it's fair to say that the call center had their share of issues.  I've literally lost track of how many Facebook friends have sent me messages or posted on my wall that they cancelled their subscription to CBG after countless problems with missing issues and damaged copies.  If you've ever worked for a call center company, you know that help desk employees usually follow a "script" combined with a multi-step process that mandates how calls are handled.  There was a bizarre glitch somewhere in their process, because if you reported an issue as missing, the response was usually that no copies were available, and your subscription would be extended by another month.  However, when you had a damaged copy, it would be replaced within a few weeks. 

Gone were the days when you could call Krause Publications directly, and talk to a friendly employee that would have that missing issue in your hands within 3 days or less. 

For contributors like myself, this announcement was especially upsetting.  For myself, CBG has not only been a great magazine to read each month, but was also my "voice" in the industry.  It was a wonderful community for more than 42 years, and I was honored to be part of that community. 

There will be more updates in the coming days, but for now, I would like to thank Editor Brent Frankenhoff and Senior Editor Maggie Thompson for the opportunity and pleasure of writing for Comics Buyer's Guide, the "World's Longest-Running Magazine About Comics," for these past three years. 

There's just one more issue left - Don't Miss It !