Hemmings to Digital Readers: Hurry Up and Wait

Hemmings’ snails are in the mail.

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.

UPDATE: See related post concerning Hemmings response.

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There Are 15 Responses So Far. »

  1. My father was Kodak from 1970s and lost everything. As a car guy I see the parallels to Hemmings. Not the easiest time to find a new job!

  2. Twenty years later Hemmings Motor News is not only still in business but more profitable than ever before, and still growing. Yet Mobilia Magazine – a totally useless magazine – published by Eric Killorin himself failed miserably and is no longer in business. Enough said.

  3. For some reason you cannot address the actual post content, and instead prefer to resort to childish personal insults. Kodak was profitable while Rome burned, and Mobilia sold 12x investment and its website formed the basis of eBay Motors. You may have heard of eBay? It requires a computer. But I will thank you for reinforcing a developing story line aimed at publisher hubris: “Why Hemmings is the Prettiest Horse in the Glue Factory.”

  4. To answer your post content……… The fact of the matter is Hemmings is growing in both Print and Web/Digital. Richard I would have to agree with your post and say sounds like sour grapes.

    As far as Trader going web only it’s simple when you have less then 10% of your sub base as subscribers it doesn’t take a Rocket Scientist to figure out you won’t be in business long.

    Out of curiousity why is that everything you write about Hemmings is negative. After reading your posts from a few years ago non of your predictions have come true…….. With a proven track record like that it must be great for your consulting services.

  5. “Growing??” What does that mean: The dead cow bounce? I report the facts and virtually all of my predictions have proven correct including Car Collector, Auto Aficianado, and the few left are hanging by a thread. With the exception of WSJ, NYT, and a handful of other big media players with large war chests of expendable cash, virtually no “multi-channel” strategy can allow the one truly essential channel to flourish. Look no further than blog postings from other media watchers to learn the reality unfolding today is the same I’ve predicted since 2007: Print is a burdensome and eroding legacy that compromises executing an efficient digital strategy. So let’s get back to the core issue: Hemmings has a stated policy that charges for digital editions while at the same time delays that distribution for the sake of print subscribers. What planet are you living on?

  6. If I ran hemmings Lentinelo would be out on his ass.

  7. I worked as a freelancer for Mobilia and can tell you it was no easy job to simultaneously establish a market where one did not exist then build a publication and readership to serve that market. R. Lentinello has obviously lived a sheltered risk-averse career of spoon fed resources without accountability. Unprofessional!

  8. So my Hemmings electronic issue is delayed by delivery to mail subscribers. WTF??

  9. Well put, Dick.

  10. Hi repoman,

    Your digital edition of Hemmings Motor News is not delayed until our print edition arrives in subscriber’s mailboxes. It’s available to customers as soon as it’s ready. This happens to be the same week our print subscribers get their copies. We employ a mail monitoring service that lets us know when print copies deliver to various points in the US. We’ve found that our print edition arrives in home at roughly the same time as the digital edition. Is say roughly because mail delivery dates are not uniform. If you have any questions give us a call. 800-227-4373 x79550.

    Scott Smith
    Hemmings Motor News

  11. Scott, I didn’t think many would see this so thanks for the info but digital can be made available way before mailed issues! If you included digital with print cost no complaints but to charge extra then slow it down is crazy.

  12. Repoman you seem confused ….. You can buy the digital products seperate from print and at a lower cost. As far as the delivery time Hemmings pubs all have less then a 30 day turn around from ad deadlines to release dates.

  13. I need to jump in and restate the heart of the matter…
    1.) Hemmings digital editions are not dispatched at prepress; they are held back to align with RECEIPT of mailed issues. 2.) The cost savings associated with digital editions offer little value without the essential benefit of faster delivery. 3.) As stated by Buickguy, ads are already 30 days old before seeing the light of day.
    Why would any consumer put up with this bizarre policy of internally enforced delays when there’s eBay?

  14. I’m not confused Buick and I understand less money for digital, but either format silly to wait so long for ads. What about online?

  15. Neat website and love the movies,,, some I’ve not seen! Not too many car books left and I probably won’t reup Mopar and Hemmings Muscle. Mobilia was a decent publication back in the day,,, major stupid Richard L. to dump on you guys like that.

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