On Saturday, I received this form letter from Beckett Publications, encouraging me to re-subscribe to Beckett Hockey Magazine. This seems like a very strange thing for Beckett to do.
In summary, the letter states that I can receive 7 issues for $29.95–a savings of more than 50% off of the cover price.
It also outlines these key features:
- Unparalleled coverage and card valuations you can trust
- Tips on hockey card collecting with reliable price guides
- Card stock winners and losers from the 2010 Olympics
- Insightful articles and fantastic action on most celebrated stars on the ice
- Hockey show calendar
Correct me if I’m wrong, but the first two bullet points sound like the same thing–“valuations you can trust” and “reliable price guides”. The 2010 Olympics is old news by now. The show calendar is helpful, but what’s this about “insightful articles?”
In a 176-page magazine, such as the January 2010 issue here, 140 are dedicated to the price guide. Only 20 pages–less than 12 percent–are actual articles that you would read.
And as for the articles themselves, most are either capsules about forthcoming products, box breakdowns, or articles that outline a star player’s most valuable cards. Informative, but not very insightful.
Want information about upcoming hockey card releases? Just go to the websites of Upper Deck or In The Game, as Beckett just regurgitates their press releases, anyway.
Box breakdowns? You can find tons of those on blogs and on YouTube.
So, what’s my incentive to subscribe?
I suppose the price guide itself is a reason to subscribe. But other than adding prices for the new sets, and a few changes here and there, it is more or less the same information every issue.
What perplexes me about this special offer is that in the past few years Beckett has been really intent on selling access to their Online Price Guide (OPG). OPG access costs around $50 per year, requires no paper, no mailing and no need to write articles.
So, why the sudden push to sell magazines–at the low, low price of $4.28 per issue? The answer is obviously advertising dollars. The more subscriptions you sell, the easier it is to sell ad space…and the more you can charge per ad.
If Beckett wants to sell printed magazines, then lowering the subscription price is not the answer. Neither is publishing bullet-point lists of “what we got in a box of Champ’s” or “total value of every John Tavares card ever made” articles.
Instead, they should return their focus to printing quality, hobby-related articles that people would pay to read.