Magazines—Past & Future

Shifting Gears with Buzz Kanter


SHIFTING GEARS, by Buzz Kanter, Publisher

If you appreciate what we do, I ask for your support

When I first got into bikes back in the 1970s, there were plenty of great motorcycle magazines to read. And they covered just about any two- or three-wheel topic you could imagine. The world has changed a lot since then. Many of my favorite moto-mags are gone: Cycle, Cycle Guide, Road Rider, and Iron Works. Seldom would I have picked up lifestyle magazines like Supercycle or Outlaw Biker—just not my thing. When not riding or wrenching, I read and reread at least one motorcycle magazine a week to keep up on the latest bikes, products, and trends.
Magazine ink flows through my veins. My grandfather was a magazine publisher (Classics Illustrated), my father and mother were both publishers (Penny Press puzzles), and my brother is a publisher (Penny Press and Dell puzzles). So it should come as no surprise that I’d end up in this industry too.
I created Old Bike Journal and the fledgling TAM Communications in a spare bedroom, back in 1989. I never dreamed where it would lead me professionally or personally. Our very small team went into hyperdrive when, in 1991, our tiny TAM Communications (sounds more impressive than it was) bought the two-year-old American Iron Magazine to save it from going out of business. It was a huge gamble, and I risked just about everything I owned betting we could turn it around and build it into something we could all be proud of.
Since then, there has been a lot of expansion and contraction in the motorcycle industry, especially within the magazine business that supports it. Over the decades, we stayed true to our vision of producing the best possible magazines. And we covered most of the styles, trends, and products that our growing number of readers wanted to read about. We have seen major media companies attempt to dominate the field, with little success and a lot of staff and ownership turnover. New motorcycle magazines sprung up while others withered away. And we stayed true to our vision.
January brought with it startling announcements from some of our competitors. None of them good. Not good for the good people who worked there, not good for their readers, and not good for the industry. Two of the larger motorcycle publishers shut down half or more of their print motorcycle magazines. And those left in business were cut back to six or fewer issues a year!
Call it Rightsizing or Darwinism or anything else you wish, but this massive consolidation is real, and it’s here to stay. Print is not going away, but publications need to offer real value to the readers and advertisers if they have any chance of survival, something we do well and continue to work hard to improve.
All this makes us appreciate you, the reader, even more. We are moving into the new year with cautious optimism. As others retrench, we continue publishing American Iron Magazine every four weeks (13 issues a year) as we have for years. And our all-tech and DIY American Iron Garage stays at six issues a year. We work very hard to identify the new trends, showcase great products, and review new bikes to keep you informed and up to date.
There is real value to a quality print magazine. Don’t you prefer getting your real moto info from a magazine rather than from a small smartphone sized screen in your hands? study or flip the pages and take in the great photos, articles and layouts in full format. Many of us recognize the value and credibility of what you read in American Iron Magazine. We can’t say the same about what is shared on-line by “citizen-journalists” and part time insta-celebrity bloggers looking more for the quick “like” or click than real substance.
If you appreciate what we do, I’d like to ask for your support. Please subscribe today to our magazines and encourage others to do the same. When you subscribe, you get each and every issue of the magazine and you pay less than half the store price. American Iron Magazine is not going away, but the more readers who support us, the better a package we can publish every four weeks!

Ride safe, ride smart, have fun.


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