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Behind The Scenes At backwoods Home Magazine

Want to Comment on a blog post? Look for and click on the blue No Comments or # Comments at the end of each post.

Archive for February, 2009

Dave Duffy

BHM escapes implosion of print media thanks to its formula of quality and honesty

Sunday, February 22nd, 2009

Did you know that the world of newspapers and magazines is imploding at an alarming rate?

Except for Backwoods Home Magazine, of course.

Look at the several print publications you read and compare them to what they were in the past — in size, quality, number of advertisements they carry, any way you care to measure their health. You’ll see most have shrunk, sometimes dramatically. Google up stats and revenue for print publications (folio is a good place to start) and you will read tales of woe and anguish. Here’s a good story about their panic.

It’s not the recession that is destroying the print media. It’s the internet. This implosion has been occurring for several years, and it is now picking up steam like a locomotive going downhill. Everyone in the print industry is talking about what to do to keep the industry from going over the cliff.

But at Backwoods Home Magazine, we are enjoying our most successful year in our 20 years in business. How come?

That’s a rhetorical question. I’ve known the answer for years, and I’ve been predicting for several years that the internet will make Backwoods Home Magazine rise like cream to the top of our industry. The internet is a method of communication in which the consumer decides what is good and what is BS. The good, namely quality and honesty, rises while the bad — the crap and the BS — sink out of sight.

It’s a refreshing development. The monopoly that has long delivered news and information to an imprisoned readership is being destroyed.

Long live a freed readership.

Dave Duffy

The music side of the recession

Thursday, February 19th, 2009


Recessions aren’t all bad. My daughter, Annie, who a few years ago felt she had been priced out of the housing market in our area, finds herself priced right back in with the market value of homes plunging. And my wife, Lenie, who has been the volunteer accompanist for the Gold Beach High School and grammar school choirs for the past two years, has discovered that the price of used baby grand pianos has fallen to the point where she can afford to buy one.

Lenie has been practicing on her small spinet upright, which has been in her family since she was eight years old. It’s a good piano, but she really coveted a baby grand for its more luxurious sound. Thanks to the efforts of Dorothy Ainsworth, one of BHM’s key writers, and her son, Eric, an accomplished pianist, we located a 25-year-old baby grand Yamaha at the Piano Studios and Showcase in Medford, Oregon. Eric played every piano in the store to determine the Yamaha was a good buy, roughly half the cost of what it would sell for prior to the recession.

Tom Lowell, the store’s owner and a writer on the side, clinched the deal when he offered to write BHM an article about how he built a road into his homestead. I find it difficult to pass up a good story on a useful topic. Eric borrowed Tom’s truck and moved the baby grand the 150 miles to our home near Gold Beach yesterday.

Lenie played the whole evening.

Dave Duffy

An example of socialized medicine

Tuesday, February 10th, 2009

There is nothing like a personal example to drive a point home. My grandson, Gavin, has a cold so Annie, my daughter and the ME of BHM, made a doctor’s appointment for him today. Gavin is covered by Tricare, the Medicare-like insurance our Government gives military families. The local doctor has agreed to accept Tricare.

But this morning we got a call from the doctor’s office informing us that Tricare still had not transferred the necessary paperwork so Annie could be seen by a local doctor. Annie has been in Oregon with us since September while her husband is serving in Iraq defending the country. She has been trying to get Tricare bureaucrats to transfer the necessary paperwork for that long. This is how this Medicare-like insurance works — or in this case, does not work. It is a good example of how socialized health care will work once Obama gets it passed into law.

Even when Annie is on station at a military base, she says it would typically take at least four weeks to get an appointment with a military doctor. This is not surprising to any of us vets who have had to deal with military medicine either while we were on active duty or after we were released to civilian life. Shortly after I was discharged from the U.S. Army in 1969, a VA hospital nearly killed me when they botched a simple appendix operation.

This is the face of Universal Health Care, Socialized Medicine, or whatever the Obama Government chooses to call the National Health Care he hopes to put in place for all of us. For all you people who are hoping Obama will deliver on his promise of Universal Health Care, this is how it will work.

I think I’ll just transfer Annie to BHM’s private policy so her baby can see a doctor.

Dave Duffy

All out war at magazine newsstands will stop delivery of BHM to some bookstores

Thursday, February 5th, 2009

Perhaps you’ve heard of the chaos about to visit magazine newsstands. If not, you will soon as you look for your favorite magazine at the local store. As many as half the magazine titles that should be headed for newsstands right now will not make it due to a distribution war among distributors, wholesalers, and publishers.

Backwoods Home Magazine is not a party to this turf war, but we are somewhat caught in the middle, and about 4800 copies of our upcoming March/April issue will not make it to bookstores such as Barnes&Noble. This is because the issues were to be delivered by Source Interlink, a major wholesaler that is also a major participant in this war. If you’d like some details, click here.

This battle for distribution control could cause major, possibly fatal, damage to some magazines, but, as usual, Backwoods Home is prepared for anything. It won’t hurt us much at all. Long ago I limited BHM’s exposure to the newsstands, having been burned for $35,000 when American Distribution Services (ADS) folded six or seven years ago owing us a bunch of money. I have a deep distrust of the magazine distribution system and the handful of large companies that control it, and I have avoided doing business with them as much as possible. This has meant BHM is barred from being displayed at many retail outlets — even my hometown grocer, McKay’s Market in Gold Beach — but it protects us from the major financial damage that tends to follow in the wake of distribution upheavals such as is going on now.

Source Interlink was forced on us when Barnes&Noble awarded them the rights to distribute magazines to their stores a year or so ago. I almost did not sign the contract with them, but I thought it important for BHM to continue to be in the big bookstores. Up to that point, Ingram, a good company we have done business with for many years, was delivering us to Barnes&Noble, and they still deliver us to the other big bookstores like Waldens and Crowne.

The possibility of these massive distribution upheavals is the main reason why BHM is probably not displayed at your local newsstand. It’s simply too financially dangerous for small magazines like BHM to be heavily invested in putting tens of thousands of magazines on the newsstands, with the payout to us lagging six months behind the display date. I place a total of only 12,000 magazines on the national newsstands. I feel pretty smart, right now.


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