This came as quite a shock to me yesterday. Harris Publications, the publisher of gun magazines like Combat Handguns, Guns & Weapons for Law Enforcement, Guns of the Old West, and a considerable volume of annual publications. In the interest of full disclosure, I have written for Harris a considerable amount in the past, and count many of their staff on the firearms publication among my friends.
Mind you, Harris didn’t only publish firearms magazines. They were a giant, with titles ranging from the aforementioned Combat Handguns to Guitar World and Rides. This honestly can’t be laid at the feet of the firearms publishing industry. Here’s the full statement from the CEO:
It is with great sadness that we are announcing the closing of Harris Publications. For nearly 40 years, Harris Publications has been a mainstay in enthusiast publishing.
We are extremely grateful for the tremendous contributions of our employees, past and present. The hard work and dedication of our creative, sales, circulation and operations teams and the talents of our freelance editors, writers, photographers and designers are what allowed us to continue delivering thoughtful and beautiful magazines to our readers.
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. We have tried mightily to persevere against these forces, but have been unable to overcome these challenges.
It’s no secret the print publishing industry across the board has been hard hit lately. Subscriptions are down, newsstand sales are down, and as I well know it costs a fortune to produce a quality magazine. Sadly, I can’t say I’m too surprised by this, because as the publishing industry changes, it’s become even more competitive – adapt or die. Print magazines have to compete directly with digital media for ad dollars these days. When an ad buyer sits down to figure out where they’re going to spend their cash, it’s a lot easier to see the direct ROI off a digital ad than it is a print ad.
The way people consume content is changing as well. I keep thinking blogs will die off sooner or later, but at least in the gun space there is a demand for article length content; it’s just that people want to be able to read it on their iPhone while they’re supposed to be working.
I could go on at length about the changes to the firearms publishing world, just in the short time I’ve been in it. But instead, I think I’ll just pour one out for my homies. I liked Combat Handguns, I enjoyed writing for Harris, and I’m sad to see their books go. For giggles, you can check out a small collection of the articles I wrote for Harris at this link.