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Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
3/24/17 9:59 a.m.
Gary wrote: Keith, it wasn't Satch, or readership, or subscriptions that caused the demise. According to David Lachance in his farewell column, "the circulation has done nothing but rise ... 55K subscribers, with a renewal rate that's the envy of the industry." So I don't think Satch Carlson's columns turned off any readers. In fact, he really mellowed out in his latter years. I don't think I ever read a controversial column by him in Hemmings. I almost liked some of them. He wrote an amusing one about SU carbs recently. My interpretation is it's all about the P&L (profit and loss to the non-business types). Hemmings couldn't sustain the magazine with advertising revenue (the lifeblood of all media organizations) without putting the entire corporation in jeopardy. Hard decision. Maybe right, maybe not. Time will tell. So that's an entirely different management dilemma than editorial content.

What you can ask for your advertising depends on the quality and quantity of your readership. Then it's up to your sales people. Not everyone has Joe Gearin hustling their advertisers, but let's assume they had competent sales folks. That means that they just didn't have a compelling package to sell for some reason. Maybe they hit a low-value demographic and couldn't back it up with numbers, like some of the Honda mags. Maybe they were just too expensive. But it does all come back to your subscribers, because fundamentally magazines are in the business of selling subscribers to advertisers. If a magazine fails, it's always because of readership or subscriptions.

Hemmings has pulled all media kit information off their site for HS&E, but looking at their other titles it appears that the dead magazine may have been very similar to GRM in terms of demographics and audience. I can tell you that we get a very different response from GRM readers than we did from HS&E, though. Hard to quantify, but there were more big fish looking for a ready-to-drive turnkey and fewer people looking to build their own stuff. This means they couldn't rely on parts suppliers for advertising revenue, instead they'd be competing with places like the Robb Report and AARP for selling big ticket stuff. Maybe that was their problem.

Gary Dork
3/24/17 10:25 a.m.

In reply to Keith:

That could very well be the case. (I'm an AARP member and I'm no longer as enthusiastic about doing my own hands-on car work as I was a few years ago). However, I'd speculate that HS&EC readers would have been closer to CMS readers in terms of demographics and audience than to GRM readers.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
3/24/17 10:41 a.m.

I'm basing this on the media numbers for all Hemmings magazines.

Actually, I was mostly looking at Motor News. Muscle Machines and Classic Cars have a lower median HHI in the mid-80's. GRM says that 56% of their readers have a HHI over $100k. CMS is more affluent, with 62% over $100k. Circulation is about the same - but look at the circulation numbers for the OTHER Hemmings magazines. At 55k subscribers, HS&E was about 1/3 the size of the next smallest.

Ian F
Ian F MegaDork
3/24/17 12:12 p.m.

I have met Dave LaChance a few times and have done two American British Reliability Runs with him ('15 and '16). I agree he's a very nice guy and "one of us" in many ways - he owns a Spitfire.

Yes - the letter with the last issue was rather insulting, although I had heard about it before getting that issue, so it the shock was dampened. David's leading column was the only mention of it, but it sounds like the decision was rather sudden.

I'll give Hemmings Classic a chance. Hopefully they'll start adding some import content which would soften the blow.

The Restoration Profile segment was also one of my favorites.

As far as advertising, I got the impression that part of the magazine was handled by Hemmings "corporate" rather than anyone directly involved with production of each title. They also seem to have a different attitude towards ads than say GRM & CMS. There are less ads intermixed with content and often concentrated on single pages. I can see how the way Tim & crew will mix relevant ads with content would give advertisers a better feeling they are reaching their target audience.

Joe Gearin
Joe Gearin Associate Publisher
3/24/17 1:35 p.m.

Thanks for the shout out Keith! --- unfortunately as much as I'd like to believe it--- they didn't fold because they lacked a guy like me. I've met a few of their sales reps--- and they were all decent / knowledgeable guys. Actually, most of the competitors I've met in this industry have been extremely nice. It's hard to hate your "competition" when the first thing out of their mouths when you meet is "Man-- I just love your magazines!" Sure, we compete for Ad $$, but in the end, most of us are car guys, and we're all fighting the same battles.

I think what happened with S&E is that they were dealing with a very limited market--- and aiming at the lower-end of that market. It was clear that most of their advertising had been bought as a "group" purchase, where the advertiser really wanted to be in Hemming's "Big Book", but they also included S&E at a discount. A good way to determine a magazine's health is to see how much advertising it holds.....and S&E didn't hold much. As Keith said, subscriptions are important, but not so much monetarily. Subscriptions and circulation numbers are what marketing professionals look at when determining where to place advertising----- it's not so much the $20 sub price that keeps magazines going, it's the advertising revenue. The more eyeballs seeing their message, the higher you can charge. Feedback from readers is also very important to advertisers----- chances are their advertisers weren't getting good responses--- they pull out---revenue goes down, and the bean counters pull the plug.

I also liked their "Drivable Dream" segment.......but the rest of the magazine kind of felt flat to me. Of course.....I'm a bit biased!

Jerry From LA
Jerry From LA SuperDork
3/24/17 7:25 p.m.

^What Joe said. Here at Autobooks-Aerobooks, we sell the mag to people who like the content but didn't want to pay more for similar stories in a much-more-expensive Brit mag or even CMS. As a bookseller, I'm going to show these people other mags they may like (especially CMS at $6.99) but generally they won't budge. Yes, I know newsstand sales don't mean E36 M3 to advertisers. However, the people buying the mag may be indicative of the customer base. The average HS&E purchaser here in Burbank was a 162-year-old male on a fixed income. Perhaps that's why they folded up the tent.

From the very start, I thought they should charge more for it. I liked the stories and the columnists, plus the layout and graphics were attractive. Short of Auto-Every-Two-Weeks, $4.99 is too cheap for a glossy full-color mag. I guess they thought they would lose even more readership if they raised the price. Too late now.

conesare2seconds HalfDork
3/25/17 12:53 a.m.

I'm asking myself how long even a big name like C&D can hold on. [Disclosure: I'm a longtime subscriber of both C&D and GRM]. C&D's advertising appears to have entered a death spiral to the point that the magazine is 1/3 as thick as it was even 10 years ago. It's a venerable title but is surely not surviving solely on the basis of its ad revenues at this point unless I seriously misjudge how much money Weathertech (big hat tip for their title sponsorship of IMSA racing) has to throw around. Do manufacturers even take out full-page ads for their cars any longer? Anywhere?

I haven't broken out the ruler to measure column inches and compare 1988 C&D editorial content to their 2016 editorial content but it in more ways than one the mag seems a shadow of its former self. Or maybe it's still awesome and I'm just getting old ("Let's run another $60k crossover comparison, y'all!"). A quick thickness check of the latest C&D compared to the latest GRM is as striking as comparing a '92 C&D to its '16 counterpart. Ima say the healthier publication doesn't seem to be the one with the larger circulation. Anyway, keep on winning, GRM.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
3/25/17 10:47 a.m.
conesare2seconds wrote: Do manufacturers even take out full-page ads for their cars any longer? Anywhere?

Check the back page of that latest C+D, you'll see a full page Miata ad. Which is interesting, because Mazda didn't advertise the Miata for years after the initial introduction.

Comparing issue size - Wired Magazine is a shadow of its former self. I dropped my subscription after something like 18 years because it had turned into lightweight fluff. The days of 60-page articles on wiring the planet are gone. Evo magazine is almost exactly the same as ever, and has actually gone to 13 issues a year instead of 12. Evo continues to put out high quality editorial and design, Wired has let the design slide and has almost completely dropped the ball on editorial. There is a connection.

GRM should NOT be succeeding the way it is, according to the way the industry is going. Tim and crew have nailed it.

Gary Dork
3/25/17 4:15 p.m.

In reply to Keith Tanner:

I assume you're referring to Evo by Dennis Publishing in the UK. I don't read Evo, but have subscribed to Octane, their other magazine for vintage and classics, since 2004, and consider it to be the gold standard (my humble opinion of course). I feel as if I'm their bullseye target market. So Dennis Publishing must be doing it right. Again, my opinion.

BoxheadTim GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
3/26/17 11:12 a.m.
Keith Tanner wrote:
BoxheadTim wrote: I think what annoyed me most about the impersonal letter is that "we can't give you what you paid for, so we'll send you something else that you probably don't care for and if you don't want that you actually have to take time out of your day to call us to get your money back" attitude. One would think there'd be a better way to handle this.
That's pretty much par for the course when shutting down a magazine. You sell the subscription list to someone else. Heck, GRM has absorbed a few of those, including the Forever MX-5. Given that this happened during the NC era, there were probably a lot of wine and cheese people pretty upset when they got their first issue of welding and weird looking mutant Challenge cars.

While I understand that this is how things tend to work, doesn't mean I have to like it.

Anyway, I'll see what the first couple of issues of the replacement mag look like and if I don't like it, I'll cancel the sub.

chandlerGTi UberDork
3/27/17 6:16 p.m.

Classic and Sports Car is by far the best classic magazine out there; they really only fall down in the modified realm which they don't participate in. I was a charter member for all of Hemmings titles but let them lapse when it seemed as if the same stories were regurgitating over and over; they weren't, but the writers seemed to be stuck in a rut. Rodders Journal, C&SC, Car Craft, GRM and CM are what I'm reading now.

wspohn HalfDork
3/29/17 11:17 a.m.
Classic and Sports Car is by far the best classic magazine out there;

I used to subscribe to both British classic car mags, but it became evident that they were dropping the bucket in the same well, when both frequently did articles on exactly the same cars within a month or so of each other. That and the high cost in Canada (around $14 per issue) resulted in me dropping one and later the other (Classic and Sports went last).

I also resented paying for a heavy magazine comprised of about 25% content and 75% ads, though I know that they needed to survive.

I still pick up the odd issue (latest one with a comparo of BMW Z4M, Mercedes SLK AMG and Cayman S, for example), but I find the usually regurgitated and often inaccurate content too annoying to subscribe again, even though the subject matter hits my target.

Gary SuperDork
3/29/17 7:30 p.m.

Well, after all his, I think we all have our own personal thoughts on our favorite car magazines. And everybody is definitely entitled to their own opinion, and in some cases, more than just opinion. But, after all this discussion, I believe it is still somewhat of a mystery to us "mere mortals" why the magazine in question (i.e., Hemmings Sports & Exotic Car) went teats up.

Ian F
Ian F MegaDork
3/30/17 5:58 a.m.

In reply to Gary:

No mystery: Ad revenue was not enough to support the magazine.

maseratiguy Reader
4/4/17 9:30 p.m.

I used to subscribe to a lot of the typical car magazines but have let everything fall by the wayside other than HS&EC and this one. The big three, (C&D, R&T, and Automobile just seem intent on pushing the latest "can't fix it yourself" cars, electrics, andooooh, lane change assist type stuff)...(I never count Motor Trend as it has always been dreadful). HS&EC and CMS both are exactly what I am looking for. I'll miss Hemings. I've had two cars featured in the magazine, (my 1969 Giulia in the 2nd to last issue and a Maserati Merak Sept. 2016) David LaChance is a wonderful guy and a great enthusiast. I get the feeling the staff of the magazine was as surprised as everyone else. I'm a little surprised that the growing interest in Japanese classics didn't present Hemmings with a more future oriented outlook as they may have been able to grab a lot of advertising, (maybe not right away but soon) from the growing market and fan base.

I will miss them greatly. Other than CMS the only other options are the British mags which are absolutely fantastic....but very pricey. (Classic and Thoroughbred, Octane, Classic Cars, and Auto Italia)

4/5/17 4:09 a.m.

I guess I am one of the lower-end subscribers someone described above but I certainly will miss HS&EC. The cars featured in HS&EC were more along the lines of ones that I might actually have a chance of ever owning and since I am not a sports car racing fan that part of CMS is lost on me. Satch was one of the best writers in any magazine and yes, I quit R&T when Egan left.

Another problem with the group of lower-end subscribers is that we own more of the less collectible cars (such as my 1972 Saab 96) which means there are very few parts suppliers that carry more than just tires and spark plugs for my Saab. This means no large suppliers and advertisers like are there for brands that probably sold more cars in a year than in the entire run of Saab.

I guess if there is a point to this it would be that, in my opinion, it would not kill CSM to occasionally feature the kinds of cars that were in HS&EC.

Tim Suddard
Tim Suddard Publisher
4/6/17 6:51 a.m.

By the way, I took the time to analyze an entire year's worth of HS&E last week and presented to everyone on staff. They had just over a 20% ad/edit ratio. Our's in CMS is over 50%. One of the subtle changes we are making, after looking at what they did right and wrong is to add pages so we can get another story or two in each issue.

BillBall New Reader
4/6/17 7:06 a.m.

Yeah more pages. How is Edd China at writing? :)

jimbob_racing Dork
4/6/17 7:47 a.m.

More classic Japanese car content, please.

Tim Suddard
Tim Suddard Publisher
4/6/17 4:17 p.m.

More Japanese car content was one of our conclusions.

rconlon HalfDork
4/7/17 2:33 p.m.

Last month I was offered insanely cheap subscriptions to both Road and Track and Car and Driver as a combination for two years. Are they going the same route? When HS$EC offered me the $9 deal, I took it by placing cash in the envelope in case it was a scam. I enjoyed it for two years.

Rupert Dork
4/8/17 2:50 p.m.

I'll certainly miss HS&EC! To my mind they were the only mag truly focused on imports. Since I haven't bought a US branded car since my '70 El Camino, I never was interested in all the Ford versus Chevy stuff in the mainline mags. Now Hemmings is planning to send me nothing but that in the coming months!

AS for Satch, he's still Satch. I've always been able to identify with many of his thoughts and rides. And as I still own some Halda Rally stuff myself, I can relate to that part as well. Satch was always opinionated but, IMHO wasn't nearly as full of himself as the writer, I won't even say his name because I try not to cuss in print, on the back page of R&T!!

Between that "Yea Me" column and Mr. Egan retiring, I don't see myself renewing R&T again. BTW:I dropped Car and Driver when I couldn't tell the two mags apart. The last few years I could never tell if I was reading Road and Driver or Car & Track.

Gary SuperDork
4/8/17 3:48 p.m.

In reply to Rupert:

Now, now, we all know the cigar-man is a pillar of the auto industry and knows what's best for us.

conesare2seconds HalfDork
4/8/17 4:36 p.m.

In reply to Rupert:

R&T is the one that will devote an entire issue to the latest Ferraris, or a combination of Lamborghinis, Mclarens and Porsches, without actually having any Track content. C&D is the one that is trying really hard to convince me that electricity is the only just and proper future of performance vehicles, but in the meantime aren't these unaffordable luxury/sport SUVs the greatest?

Rupert Dork
4/12/17 2:44 p.m.

In reply to conesare2seconds:

In general, I agree about R&T. Having said that, I was thrilled their May issue has more Sprots Car coverage than any I've seen in years.

I still won't renew as long as that cigar smoker is one the back page. But it's a start.

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