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Hobby Publisher F&W Media Files for Bankruptcy


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This may affect a good number of car fans.  I hope not.

 

I just read that hobby publisher F & W Media

is filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.  They are 

publishers in a considerable number of hobbies,

including antique cars, stamps, coins, comic books,

and sports cards.  They produce Old Cars Weekly,

Old Cars Price Guide, and the numerous Standard 

Catalogs of antique cars.  (They bought out Krause

Publications in 2002.)

 

The article said, "The company plans to remain in

operation while it plans liquidation of its holdings."

 

"Company officials cite industry decline, problematic

investments and corporate mismanagement as

contributing factors leading F & W into bankruptcy."

 

"In 2008, F & W shifted its business model to e-commerce

from print, a move that hastened the company's financial

decline according to its filings.  [Company CEO Gregory]

Osberg details in the F & W bankruptcy filing that the firm

sustained significant losses among print subscriptions,

dropping to 21.5 million from 33.4 million, with a corresponding

plummet in advertising revenue to $13.7 million, from

$20.7 million.  The shift to e-commerce resulted in F & W

Media entered [sic] into expensive technology contracts

to help fuel sales that did not materialize."

 

The article was in a hobby publication other than our

antique-car hobby, and did not address the automotive

aspect that we all appreciate.  I don't know what, if anything,

will happen to the car publications.

 

 

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Understand that this is a Chapter 11 and not a 7.  They are trying to reorganize and stay in business.  So they could end up keeping OCW if it is profitable or even selling it off.  Too soon to tell, many businesses have come out of Chapter 11 to have success.  Here is hoping that something good happens for our friends at OCW.

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I hope they either sell it off, or "trim the fat' and enter profitability again!

 

Think of all the good magazines that we've already lost over the years, including Automobile Quarterly, Cars & Parts, Car Collector/Car Classics, Motor Trend Classic, etc.

 

Craig

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42 minutes ago, cahartley said:

F&W already abandoned, literally, their Iola, WI, facility where 500 employees were once employed....... :( 

 

Can you tell us more?

Did that happen very recently?

Did Old Cars Weekly staff move to a new location?  Where?

 

I understand that Krause Publications (later bought by F & W)

was instrumental in the Iola, Wisconsin antique car swap meet.

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A lot of people subscribed to these publications for the classifieds, that has changed in the past 15 to 20 years. Remember the days of SASE? or sending a $5 check for a deposit on pictures of a car for sale? I hope they get things together, I don't want to see anyone have a problem. 

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18 hours ago, John_S_in_Penna said:

 

Can you tell us more?

Did that happen very recently?

Did Old Cars Weekly staff move to a new location?  Where?

 

I understand that Krause Publications (later bought by F & W)

was instrumental in the Iola, Wisconsin antique car swap meet.

 

John, OCW moved to Stevens Point Wi. sometime in 2018. A big lay-off also occurred within that division at that time.

Curti, Angelo will land somewhere else on his feet as he is passionate about his work and it shows.

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F&W  is here in Cincinnati - not to offend anyone who owns one, though their reputation around these parts tends to be anyone with a good used 1965 Ford Mustang 6 Cylinder that perhaps goes to one car show a year was a "god" (or goddess)  of antique car hobby (and I hear the same stereotype as to many of their other publications as well - and have heard it for years now) - true or not I have no idea, but that is what I hear. 

 

I do know that I have sitting on a shelf an October 1, 1971, Old Cars Weekly - their very first issue and it is 100 times better than the past 10 years combined. 

Edited by John_Mereness (see edit history)
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I’ve mentioned before I do circulation fulfillment for publications. I processed over 120 magazines at the high point of our business. Today there are about 20-25 of them left in business - no not because I charged too much!  Most that are gone tried to go digital or e-commerce too quickly. The main problem was lack of advertising combined with poor platform design for readership on the digital. The e-commerce problem was over estimate of revenue income. Many were listing to the tech guys and not their own sales guys and were off by well over 100%! 

As an example I tried to let a 4 pub customer know other customers with twice the circulation had done the exact same thing they were planning but had spent half the budget their tech department had requested and failed. They dropped the project and closed two of their pubs because of the losses. The head tech said they couldn’t have had the same great programs and plan they had. He convinced the publisher I was not the house that would support what he wanted to do so they left my service after 12 years. They over spent the budget by 15% in the first six months and the revenue stream missed by over 60%. The new service bureau cost were 15% higher than mine and they didn’t get any free consultation the way I provided them. They ended up closing one of the pubs, fired over half the tech guys and moved the service back to me. The publisher said he just didn’t know why he listened to tech guys when he didn’t really understand what they were planning. 

The publishing industry lost its focus in this internet era. I know the younger generation is much more dependent on their screens than older people. But how many people really get enjoyment out of reading an article they want for enjoyment (not work) on line?  Look at most of the old car stuff you get online and they are short quick articles, not the in-depth articles you read and reread in a print copy, then go online to a forum to discuss. It’s a balancing act for print/digital publications, get it right and it works well get it wrong, good bye! 

Dave S 

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2 hours ago, John_Mereness said:

I do know that I have sitting on a shelf an October 1, 1971, Old Cars Weekly - their very first issue and it is 100 times better than the past 10 years combined. 

 

What was that 1971 issue of Old Cars Weekly like?

How large were the sheets, and how many pages?

I remember seeing some of those distant past issues once,

in a vendor's pile, and even the front page had several

articles, but I didn't scrutinize those issues.

 

In more recent years, Old Cars Weekly kept shrinking

their pages and number of pages, until it was the size

of a newspaper's weekly TV listings.  I stopped subscribing,

sorry to say.  I hope they succeed and thrive, and get back

to offering some real substance!

Edited by John_S_in_Penna (see edit history)
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4 hours ago, John_Mereness said:

F&W  is here in Cincinnati - not to offend anyone who owns one, though their reputation around these parts tends to be anyone with a good used 1965 Ford Mustang 6 Cylinder that perhaps goes to one car show a year was a "god" (or goddess)  of antique car hobby (and I hear the same stereotype as to many of their other publications as well - and have heard it for years now) - true or not I have no idea, but that is what I hear. 

 

I do know that I have sitting on a shelf an October 1, 1971, Old Cars Weekly - their very first issue and it is 100 times better than the past 10 years combined. 

When the late model stuff arrived it became Old Cars Weakly. Bob 

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I like OCW's "new" appearance and hate hearing they have financial troubles. I'm one who still enjoys sitting down with a PAPER copy of my magazines. I can drop it and then pick back up a few hours later. Aggrafretting as hades to do that with digital. 

 

I was at my favorite Italian joint Friday night with my local newspaper, and the 20-year old server said he didn't know anyone his age who read newspapers or hardcopy magazines. Pfft.

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Here is an article on the F & W bankruptcy from Forbes magazine:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/tonysilber/2019/03/11/fw-media-citing-debt-decline-and-mismanagement-files-for-bankruptcy-protection/#57d08a404355

 

The article says they have $2.5 million in cash available,

but $102 million in outstanding debt.  It's no wonder that

they will have to sell off some of their assets.

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On 3/23/2019 at 5:45 PM, John_S_in_Penna said:

 

Can you tell us more?

Did that happen very recently?

Did Old Cars Weekly staff move to a new location?  Where?

 

I understand that Krause Publications (later bought by F & W)

was instrumental in the Iola, Wisconsin antique car swap meet.

 

Yes it happened quite recently.

Chet Krause was the actual founder of the Car Show via the Iola Lions Club of which he was a member.

Besides Chet I knew one other who displayed at the first "show" during the Lions Club grilled chicken dinner at a park in the village.

Staff was moved elsewhere and the big building in Iola was vacated.

Car Show got to be too much and became its own corporation. https://www.iolaoldcarshow.com who, sadly, makes no mention of the history of the show....... :angry:

 

Periodical publishing has become a tough, TOUGH, business since the growth of the internet.

Chet told me not long before he passed away that after the coin and car magazines took off money was rolling in almost faster than they could count due to PAID advertising and, primarily, the classified ads.

Not so much now when everyone has the stupid idea that everything on the internet is free.

 

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It's common to hear that the internet has hurt

the printed medium;  but interestingly, F & W said

that its jump into electronic media was what

ACCELERATED its demise.  They spent too much,

and unwisely, it was said, on a full-bore move to

get away from the printed page.

 

And of the car magazines lost in recent years, they

didn't merely move to electronic versions.  Instead,

they disappeared entirely.  Automobile Quarterly is 

gone (I'm not sure why);  Cars and Parts got involved

in modified cars and lost their antique-car subscriber base,

eventually changing their focus entirely and ceasing to

exist as an antique-car publication.  Thankfully,

Collectible Automobile is still very good.

 

Maybe the lesson is:  Hobbyists want to read and

relax with a printed page.  They want true hobby-focused

articles that are well researched and give good insights.

And the writers need to be knowledgeable on the subjects!

 

 

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Classifieds were the cash cow of newspapers and not a major revenue source for most (but not all) magazines. Think about 4 to 6 pages of close to 1500

$10 -20 ads every four or five days. That’s over $60,000 at a minimum per week. Usually classified ads were paid for up front so the cash flow was very good. Sunday ad sections were also money machines as they printed these in off times to keep the presses busy. Along comes eBay and other types of cheap internet ways to advertise something for sale and that cash flow disappears. Newspapers can’t keep large reporter staffs without the cash. Si editorial suffers. 

 

Magazines rely on ads more than classifieds. Think of a three legged stool. One leg is circulation ( subscribers) another is editorial and the third is ad sales. Take any one of the three away and the stool tips over. Again sales of ads is the biggest problem as the internet makes it easier to get information to the buyer. 

Most people will admit they would rather read an article on paper than on a computer and certainly more than on a phone. But you need all three legs of the stool to be stable in the market place. 

Dave S 

Edited by SC38DLS (see edit history)
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I have been a contributor to OCW since 1983. In speaking with Angelo, he said that for the time being Old Cars Weekly will continue to publish as the parent company attempts to reorganize. Old Cars Weekly is a very viable publication and while the immediate future isn't defined, he and I both feel that it will be around for many years. In 2021, OCW will celebrate its 50th anniversary. If you have ever wanted to subscribe and have something on real paper to read that covers your hobby, I ask you to consider doing it now. Some great writers from people who really love vintage tin!

 

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20 hours ago, philskinner said:

I have been a contributor to OCW since 1983. In speaking with Angelo, he said that for the time being Old Cars Weekly will continue to publish as the parent company attempts to reorganize.......he and I both feel that it will be around for many years...........If you have ever wanted to subscribe and have something on real paper to read that covers your hobby, I ask you to consider doing it now. Some great writers from people who really love vintage tin!

 

I agree with Phil on this (Hi Phil, thanks for chiming in on this and welcome to the forum).  I have been an OCW subscriber for (I think) 35 years and going to the Iola Swap Meet almost that long.  The new look of the magazine is no big thrill for me BUT I do think they have good content and some of the best writers they have ever had including Phil, Gerald Perschbacher(sp), Kit Foster and others.  Good luck to Angelo and the others involved and I certainly hope to see OCW for many years, Todd C   

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OCW started as a monthly publication.  A pilot issue was sent to a mailing list of people known to be interested in old cars.  Subsequently, Volume 1 No. 1 came out in October 1971 at $4 a year and was an 11" x 15 1/2" tabloid fold newspaper.  If memory serves it later became bi monthly, and then went to weekly.  Now, "Weekly" has been removed from the title and issues are reduced to 38 per year, and it is 8" x 10 3/4".
As a confessed pack rat I admit to having kept issues from its inception through the mid '70's,  later ones were disposed of.  Somewhere along the line I dropped OCW.  Then, several years ago relatives were pumping me for birthday suggestions and I mentioned OCW.  When it was received I was disappointed to see what had become of the publication, and what it cost for what relatively little you got.  
I'll be spending a lot more time taking a nostalgia trip through Vol. 1 No. 1 than the breeze- through I made of the current issue. MVC-001S.JPG.8513e77fb312427ed853516e02a7ad53.JPGMVC-002S.JPG.f540dd308bd0b0a8307feedfd5bac27f.JPG

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Loved OCW when it featured columns by Henry Austin Clark. Sometime in the "80's they published a collection of their columns and articles in a large soft cover "book". Find one if you can. Great reading if only for HAC's columns about the old days of car collecting (and car "replicating" but we won't dwell on that).

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On 3/24/2019 at 1:32 PM, John_Mereness said:

... not to offend anyone who owns one, though their reputation around these parts tends to be anyone with a good used 1965 Ford Mustang 6 Cylinder that perhaps goes to one car show a year was a "god" (or goddess)  of antique car hobby (and I hear the same stereotype as to many of their other publications as well - and have heard it for years now) - true or not I have no idea, but that is what I hear.

 

I'm sorry, John, but I haven't a clue as to what you're trying to say here.

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On 3/25/2019 at 7:44 AM, John_S_in_Penna said:

It's common to hear that the internet has hurt

the printed medium;  but interestingly, F & W said

that its jump into electronic media was what

ACCELERATED its demise.  They spent too much,

and unwisely, it was said, on a full-bore move to

get away from the printed page.

 

That's not quite what the article says:

 

"The Company’s decision to focus on e-commerce and deemphasize print and digital publishing accelerated the decline of the Company’s publishing business," Osberg continued, "and the resources spent on technology hurt the Company’s viability because the technology was flawed and customers often had issues with the websites."

 

E-commerce is not electronic media.  It's Amazon, Jet, Alibaba, etc. Yeah, no competition there... 🙄

 

Couple that with bad management decisions to waste money on flawed technology, and you've got failure.

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OK, we are all reading this on an electronic format, and it is informative , instant, easy to reply and contribute to,  and of course "modern" for those of us who collect and embrace obsolete vehicles and everything about them ( literature, gas pumps, toys etc ) But is there anyone else here besides me that really enjoys getting a magazine or a publication in the mail ( snail is usually in front of the word mail) that you can sit back in a comfortable chair and read, and turn pages by hand, look at an image or photograph without staring at a screen? I know I am archaic, and a dinosaur but letters were so much more appreciated and interesting when typed on an "Underwood" ( yes I still use one that was a gift from my Packard buddy Tim in Vt.) or written out 'long hand' with a fountain pen. ( yes my fingers get stained with blue ink).

You are all now thinking " he probably hand cranks a photograph as well and listens to 78 rpm records - or even worse cylinder records" the answer is yes, but changing a record every few minutes can get to be a drag, so I also listen to a 1938 Wurlitzer jukebox  I restored that can play a selection of 78 rpm records one after the other if you put enough nickels in it ( yeah the nickels I use have a buffalo on one side).  That's all for now, I know I have a lot of people shaking their heads and mouthing the words "really Gosden ?". I am looking at a glass bottle of Moxie soda that has my name on it and I believe seeks to be opened immediately.

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I read it. There are a couple of wide ranges in technology referred to. The selection of cut off points and overlaps makes it hard to follow. So the use of a fountain pen concurrent with the use of an Underwood is OK. I'm impressed with that.

I don't care to use the easy chair for periodicals, but I read bound books sitting there. The anachronism there is using a 100 Watt incandescent lamp. I was told they are evil. The bulb is within 2 feet of my head and radiates 340 BTUH that feels good in the room set to maintain 66 F. Now, if I joined the current philosophy of throwing that evil thing into a landfill and buying a compact fluorescent lamp, manufactured half way around the world and shipped across the ocean with #6 oil, then transported with diesel to my local store, I would not have the heat of the bulb. I would probably turn my digital thermostat up to 68 or 69F, heating the whole room and using the 80,000 BTUH furnace to raise the temperature. Like Walt, I choose not to participate in all technology in this and many other examples.

On the car side, I once offered to give a "Green" group a presentation on selecting an existing used car to avoid the carbon footprint involved in the manufacture and purchase of a new car. They branded me a radical and proclaimed that melting steel, forming, and painting a new Prius was the enlightened way. None of them would touch a used Volvo or Subaru.

 

Technology evolves. Sometimes there are consequences.

Bernie

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25 minutes ago, 60FlatTop said:

The anachronism there is using a 100 Watt incandescent lamp. I was told they are evil. The bulb is within 2 feet of my head and radiates 340 BTUH that feels good in the room set to maintain 66 F. Now, if I joined the current philosophy of throwing that evil thing into a landfill and buying a compact fluorescent lamp, manufactured half way around the world and shipped across the ocean with #6 oil, then transported with diesel to my local store, I would not have the heat of the bulb.

Don't tell your granddaughter that!  She'll be disappointed to learn that her Easy-Bake® oven is now 'evil' as it uses two of them!!

 

Craig

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6 hours ago, West Peterson said:

 

I'm sorry, John, but I haven't a clue as to what you're trying to say here.

West, you and I both have very diverse interest in cars (ie we like a large base of cars from 1900 to sitting on the dealer showroom floor), but the reputation around here locally seems to be most of the things we are interested in do not fit their supposed target market (ie. we are irrelevant) - while that may or may not be the case as I have not subscribed to any of their publications since the mid-1990's that seems to where the conversation gets moved to by people who have asked me (I say "no clue" and then they start saying they feel the "bulls-eye" is being missed by the "arrow"). 

Edited by John_Mereness (see edit history)
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6 hours ago, Walt G said:

OK, we are all reading this on an electronic format, and it is informative , instant, easy to reply and contribute to,  and of course "modern" for those of us who collect and embrace obsolete vehicles and everything about them ( literature, gas pumps, toys etc ) But is there anyone else here besides me that really enjoys getting a magazine or a publication in the mail ( snail is usually in front of the word mail) that you can sit back in a comfortable chair and read, and turn pages by hand, look at an image or photograph without staring at a screen? 

 

Walt, me too, I still read a physical newspaper every day, maybe two of them. Mostly from the back to the front, I just can't read a paper on my phone! When I was working and commuting to NYC everyday if I did not have a NY Post or a Daily News in my back pocket I felt like something was missing. 

I enjoy my magazines arriving in the mail, something about turning pages...

PS, you can keep the Moxie sort reminds me of cough syrup with fizz, but I will take a yoo-hoo anytime

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