Foliomag.com (2 hours ago): New York-based enthusiast publisher Harris Publications notified employees today that the company is shutting down, effective immediately, after nearly four decades.
Founded in 1977, Harris published a wide variety of special interest magazines over the years…
“The magazine publishing industry has been through turmoil in the face of the rapid ascendance of digital media, changing consumer content preferences, magazine wholesaler struggles and consolidation in the supply chain,” read an official company statement obtained by Folio:. “We have tried mightily to persevere against these forces, but have been unable to overcome these challenges.”
This is a tough day for me because back in the 1990s and early 2000s, I did a ton of work for Harris. In fact at one time when I first took the insane plunge and went freelance, I made most of a very meager living writing for their mags. Back then Harris was doing well and publishing a bunch of mid-grade, how-to hunting magazines, including Guns and Hunting, Whitetail Hunting Strategies, Bowhunting Strategies, Deer and Big Game Rifles and more.
I eagerly wrote as much as they would let me for all those rags, but my crowning glory came in the early 2000s, when the editors of the Harris outdoor group (Gerry and Nino, who remain my dear friends to this day) gave me my own magazine entitled Whitetail Hunters Digest.
My own mag! For years, I wrote the entire publication, 16 to 20 articles. It was published once a year, a “one shot,” and hit the newsstand in summer as a primer for deer season. It was a unique and coveted gig for a freelance writer and a hell of a lot of work. I embraced it, obsessed over it, loved it.
My Lord, that was 15 years ago, but it seems like 50. I miss the grind and the deadlines for the incredibly scant pay. I miss working for and with my editors Gerry and Nino (Gerry had moved on from Harris a while back, and I hope Nino lands on his feet, he’s one of the best men in this industry).
I fear and know that in this digital/mobile world more print mags will go away, likely sooner than later. And it makes me sad, for I was born to write for hook and bullet magazines, not the ones on a screen, but the ones you pick up with your hands, and flip and read. Not many people seem do that anymore, especially you Millennials.
Well, at least I had some vision, and have my Big Deer Blog—digital! I plan on hunting and writing it (more correctly, posting it) until the day they put me under.
It’s a little after 4 p.m. I’m going to go pour 3 fingers, sit in my favorite chair, shut off my phone and read a yellowed 15-year-old issue of Whitetail Hunter’s Digest cover to cover. (My gosh, I’d forgotten the photos were black and white back then).
Here’s to you Harris Publications, thanks for one hell of a ride.
It’s sad (and worrisome) as someone trying to “grind it out” much like you used to. As a photographer who caters to the hunting magazines of today, it’s tough to see some magazines resort to using lower quality interior images, which they purchase at next to nothing from stock sites…but I realize it’s a key way for the publisher to stay in business. Why would they spend $400-$800 on an image when they can get it from istock for about $50 and help balance the loss of subscription revenue? Fortunately for photographers the marketing/advertising side is ever growing with new media: but that doesn’t do an editorial writer much good. And, like you, I love when that hard copy comes in the mail.
Mike: I was one of your loyal supporters in those scant years and since. Somewhere in the attic I have several copies of that 1 a year project you wrote of along with stacks of other Harris publications. Occasionally my wife will send me up there for some relic an I’ll thumb thru those old copies while making believe I’m searching for her item.
What killed the sporting mags IMHO was the choice to go from the format of the O’connor, Jobson. Annabelle to the wanna be yuppie biking thrash produced to be politically correct in the late 70’s early 80’s. Give hunters a good read like it was in the 60’s and they will still buy the product @ $8.00 per issue. Turn off the non hunting public who cares those tree hugger types are not about to buy a real hunting article any more today than then. BD
thanks BD all the good magazines/writers on the outdoors are gone for sure, forever
Yes, that is sad, Hanback. I got lucky and scored a few articles for WHS (many thanks, again, Mike) as well. Although I didn’t meet Nino, he was good to chat with on the phone. Unfortunately, this is going to continue happening to many magazines and newspapers in the next few years. The times they are a’ changin’.
Thanks Hanback. For all you do. Still love reading any and all of your articles. Always good stuff man.
I still receive a few hunting/shooting magazines in the mail….
But….I have to be honest. The only reason I still do, is because the are selling them @ a yearly rate of around $10.00. I don’t know how they are staying in business @ those rates with news stand prices @ $5.00 (or more) per issue.
I’ve often wondered why newspapers and magazines didn’t offer a discounted rate, full content digital copy years ago to make the transition into the situation they are all facing now a bit easier.