The other day a friend gifted me with two magazines dating from the 20th Century. One was a 1958 copy of The Motor, featuring the 1958 Motor Show from Earls Court; the other a 1972 copy of Motor that reported on that year’s Le Mans race when the motor racing world lost the great Jo Bonnier.
The reporter on this feature (and the magazine’s road tester) was none other than the illustrious racing driver Tony Dron of legend who, I am pleased to say, is still going strong.
Why Sales Of Car Magazines Are Down
I mention this because the world of car magazines seems not to be in the same sort of rude health as those days of yore. A couple, I hear, are in financial trouble and the others no longer command the huge readership levels they once did. Undoubtedly there will be exceptions to this but the fact remains that the world of printed paper car magazines is on the wane, alas.
I believe this is at least partly due to the fact that the world of cars has long since lost its lustre and allure. Also culpable though is the dreaded internet – the very place you are reading this now.
Yes, as with so many other things that blight our lives, the internet is to blame and it has sucked the life out of the printed page. One Sunday paper is, in print, a shadow of its former self. Much of the printed press has gone down the online road. Although there is of course plenty of quality writing on the web, there is also masses of sloppy dross, ill-informed comment, general ignorance and don’t even get me started on grammar and spelling.
I believe though that the rot is beginning to set in as we are increasingly inundated with electronic babble. The world rushed to read their books on devices like the Kindle and it had a disastrous effect on the print industry. Lovely browsing bookshops closed for good, unable to compete. It seemed at the time that everyone was buying into electronic reading.
Except that now they no longer are. Sales of tablets like the Kindle are on the wane as the purchased devices, dying, gather dust on distant shelves. The paperback book (and to an extent, the hardback) is back in favour, thanks to modern production methods and, yes, new technology.
Car Magazines On The Way Back
It is also thanks to modern production methods and useful IT systems that we have seen a rise of the ’boutique’ publisher. That’s why I am delighted to give a big Brian Blessed type shout out for the new 5054 Magazine, the brainchild of experienced motoring writer and general automotive expert, Hilton Holloway.
It’s a new venture that should be welcomed by everyone who loves cars and motoring and who also likes to settle back in a comfy chair with a cup of coffee and read a very high quality periodical, printed on lovely paper, about cars and automotive culture.
It’s mixed, it’s varied, has great writing and photography and I welcome it with open arms even though I didn’t think of it myself. It deserves our support. So much better than squinting and scrolling around a monitor, don’t you think? Geoff Maxted
Next time: The Way We Were: Motoring Journalism at its best.