From the Publisher – Reeling in the Years

OK, Ready, set, go. Year 29 officially begins with this issue.

That’s right, for nearly three decades Out & About Magazine has been popping up at your favorite coffee shop, restaurant, fitness club… perhaps under your pet parakeet. Point is, it’s still popping up. Hey, we’re nothing if not resilient.

Such longevity is no small feat in the Digital Age. In fact, had I known the challenges of said Age, I might have gone into a different line of business. Say, computer science.
Today, a digital replacement is in the works for virtually everything, including this page if you are reading our print version. The only constant is that nothing is constant. Evolve or expire.

So far, we’ve been able to evolve. Out & About the monthly magazine has evolved into Out & About the brand, an interactive medium that through a variety of channels presents an upbeat look at local lifestyle. Today, you can interact with that brand via the channel of your choice: print, digital or by attending one of our events.

In the past year alone, that interaction has increased dramatically. We continue to exhaust our monthly supply of print magazines. Visitors to Out & About’s website have increased 87 percent. Our social media engagement has more than doubled, and our events and stories are liked, shared and tweeted. It’s not so much that we’re telling better stories, or creating better events. It’s simply that we’re figuring out how to take advantage of the new digital tools technology has sprung upon the world, which has increased the number of people we touch.

Today, anyone with a laptop can be a publisher; anyone with a smartphone can be a photographer. Quality is the differentiator. Quality is the determining factor on whether an endeavor is a business or a hobby.

But mastering the technology is only part of the battle. Today, anyone with a laptop can be a publisher; anyone with a smartphone can be a photographer. Quality is the differentiator. Quality is the determining factor on whether an endeavor is a business or a hobby.

So while Out & About—like virtually every other publishing entity on the planet—continues to pursue a business model that allows us to create, edit and distribute content through all of these platforms and still pay the bills, it’s important we don’t forget our core mission: To deliver content and activities you consider worthy of your attention.

Like you, I want my content in the medium that’s most convenient at the time. At the office, I’ll take it on my desktop. At the Y, I want the print version so I can read while on the elliptical. Late night, I want it on my iPad. The Digital Age has demanded that publishers offer room service, regardless of time of day or whether the customer is willing to pay for it. We have little choice but to deliver. Evolve or expire.

Five years from now, I’m not sure the print version of Out & About will still exist. We may be strictly a webzine, or a live stream, or a fond memory. But as an old-school journalist trying to maintain relevancy, I’m encouraged by the life cycle of vinyl records.

In the 1980s, digital sound in the form of CDs began making vinyl yesterday’s news. Rumors of vinyl’s death, however, were greatly exaggerated.
“We never expected the vinyl resurgence to become as crazy as it is,” Josh Bizar, Music Direct’s director of sales and marketing, recently told The New York Times. “It’s come full circle.”

Today, listening to your favorite music on vinyl is a coveted experience. For a growing number, it’s preferred over digital.

So, what do you think? Please comment below.