Among the more uninspired email pitches arrived recently from Vermont’s own version of Kodak: Hemmings Motor News. As reported in March of last year, Hemmings print titles are regurgitated digital editions for prices ranging from $7 to $12, or $25 for the set of four. Digging a bit deeper, however, we see a policy that continues to handicap web readers:
You will receive your first issue within minutes after you subscribe. For each month after, you will receive an emailed issue alert the same time print subscribers get their copies (these dates vary by publication).
Restricting online access to what is already an obsolete format is no recipe for attracting savvy new car collectors. Last I checked Hemmings also enforced an ad policy that held back ads appearing online in favor of print, but that may have changed. And what’s the trigger point for releasing digital copies based on print subs receiving theirs? Does the last sub standing send a carrier pigeon to Hemmings HQ with a head’s up?
Digital editions are also priced over-and-above the cost for their print counterparts. In May of last year Trader Publications eliminated all print editions, and the accompanying MSNBC video comments on the matter of two-tiered pricing. Maybe The New York Times and a handful of big guns can make dual pricing stick, but challenged by eBay Motors, niche class ad and auction sites, Facebook pages, and now Pinterest what value does Hemmings bring to the table?
Oh, the Kodak reference. Way back mid nineties our southern neighbor in Bennington, VT asked for help developing their initial web strategy while our team was creating a similar channel for Mobilia Magazine. With so much potential and available resources, Hemmings’ web initiative however languished for much the same causes seen today: fear of channel conflict. Like Kodak that invented the digital camera only to see more nimble digital rivals decimate its core film business, Hemmings likewise has proven reluctant to deliver a fully comprehensive online service to readers. Kodak of Rochester, NY and Hemmings of Bennington, VT… company towns from a bygone era.
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