THE PUBLISHING BUSINESS has kept evolving, despite the fact that it still relies on a primitive innovation from the fifteenth century to manufacture its main product by pressing an oil-like substance onto sheets of material derived from wood pulp. While this still accounts for the core delivery medium of our product—this magazine—we have never thought of its physical form as the final product.
What those of us in publishing actually produce is information. Books, newspapers, and magazines of all varieties—from news to entertainment to special interest—have delivered their information in the same basic form for half a millennium. The technology has changed, of course, and dramatically so. From hand-laid type and manual presses to steam-powered presses and Linotype machines, on to computer typesetting and offset printing on high-gloss paper, the manufacturing process has evolved to keep pace with the demand for better quality, higher print runs, and faster delivery.
But the advances in the evolution of the printing industry have not been enough to sustain publishing, because our true industry is communications. If our true product is information, then we are in the same business as TV, radio, and some guy who produces a podcast about catfish noodling.
Because of the explosion of internet based information sources, and especially because of the nuclear explosion of smart phone use (actually, “use” isn’t right… smart phone “addiction” is more fitting), consumers have abandoned old information delivery forms in droves.
And so we’ve had to evolve into a hybrid. For more than ten years we’ve produced digital versions of our monthly issues in one form or another. Our first efforts were what they now call “Replica” versions—simply electronic reproductions of the pages as printed. These replicas look very nice on a big desktop computer screen. But when you try to read one of them on a phone—even if it’s the latest Apple X-point-10-point-10 model with a Retina screen the size of a chicken fried steak, good luck.
And, so, we have taken great pains to design additional versions of our issues so that they can be easily read on the smallest mobile devices.
And by Great Pains, we mean hours and hours of work and piles and piles of cash to both develop these editions and then put each issue together every month.
We have been publishing mobile-optimized versions for about half a dozen years now, and to be honest, we have never been satisfied with them. They all relied on “platforms” provided by outside vendors. These platforms were either monumentally complicated, or monumentally expensive, or both.
Cue another evolutionary step.
Beginning in November, we began publishing our digital editions ourselves, totally. They are now web-based, housed on our own website. Construction of each issue is now totally under our control and the simplification of the production process has finally presented us with the ability to focus on enhancing these editions (before, as we said, just getting the things out took all our focus, and then some). This means adding things not possible in print such as videos, photo galleries, audio and other interactive stuff. We could add those things before, and did, but frankly never had the luxury of time (and the reserved energy) to plan and execute much more than a token effort.
But now we can. And you can check it out at fishgame.com/1812-december-issue.
This month’s issue is being offered as a free preview to all visitors. Later, a subscription will be required to read our current issues (past issues will remain open to all). So please, join the evolution!