Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Dire Warnings

December 28, 2011

I woke up at midnite last night mulling an idea. As sometimes happens to me, I finally got up at two and went out to the studio to write the idea down. Actually, I typed it out in an email to myself at work.

Dire Warnings

To heed, or not to heed

The warnings were dire. Airplanes will fall out of the sky. Elevators full of people will plummet to their deaths. Remember the Y2K hysteria of 1999? That was the year we bought True West magazine and we were losing money. A lot of money. I picked up a trade magazine and it said, "This has been the worst year in magazine history."

What to do? We had to cut costs.

I sought the advice of a circulation consultant with the improbable name of Nina la France. She had just left Arizona Highways and was about to start work on a new magazine in San Francisco called Red Herring, already the darling of the dot com world.

We met at a fancy restaurant on Central Avenue in downtown Phoenix. I bought. Nina's advice was equally dire: 'You are a monthly, do not go below 12 issues a year. You may save some money in the short term, but the odds are you will never go back to 12 issues."

My partners and I decided we had no other choice and we cut down to 8 issues a year. Then came 9•11. We clawed our way back, adding two issues and then another. Still, as we sat stalled at 11 issues a year, Ms. France's dire warning haunted me.

The restaurant on Central is long gone as is the magazine Red Herring, a victim of the dot com crash.

Today, 12 years later, once again, the warnings are dire. The Mayans predict doom in 2012. Airplanes will fall out of the sky.

My prediction: the doom and gloom predictors will be wrong until they are right, and at some point they will be right. In the meantime, here is our 12th issue of the year in the 12th year of the millenium. It's a bonus. Subscribers will get it for free. There's a moral in here somewhere.

"Courage is being scared to death and saddling up anyway."
—Old Vaquero Saying

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