Monday, June 18, 2012
UK bike mag editors play musical chairs
Hugo Wilson, who has been the editor of Classic Bike as long as I've been a columnist there, really transformed the magazine. I used to think that Bike was the best English-language bike mag -- and I still think it's the most influential one -- but in recent years, Classic Bike's overtaken it. In spite of Classic Bike's narrower focus, it consistently puts out the most readable and best-looking book.
In spite of a weak economy and the usual perturbations in the publishing world, Wilson proved that in motorcycle magazines, as in magic baseball stadiums, "If you build it they (readers) will come." Classic Bike's had steadily increasing page counts and readership.
Now, Hugo Wilson's been called to Bike. Ben Miller will take over the reins at Classic Bike.
In Wilson, Bike has a skillful and erudite editor. What remains to be seen is, will Bike take advantage of this change to institute a really modern publishing strategy -- yes, one that acknowledges the Internet as more than a way to occasionally pick up a print subscriber, or simply tease print content. It may still be hard (read: impossible) to meaningfully monetize the web side of a print/web hybrid, but if Bauer waits until it can see a path to profit on the web before it expands its web presence, it will be too late.
Everything I wrote about the web strategy for Cycle World applies to Bike. Now, it's time to adapt or die.