By Dan Shea
It’s hard to believe we’re ending our 17th year of Small Arms Review. However, that’s the fact, and we keep on providing the best coverage of military small arms for our community. Like most magazines today, we’ve had to adapt to a tough economy, inflation in all levels of production, and a readership that migrates back and forth with the Internet. We saw Newsweek go completely digital, and many other old mainstays are only found online as well.
We knew we had to increase our presence online and adapt to the changing environment. We took a two-year breather while we went to quarterly issues with a much larger edition, and evolved the online presence into what is now one of the best resources on the Internet. The library of files available online to subscribers grows more massive every day and we have even larger expansions planned.
It’s a difficult transition all the way around. Many of us really enjoy the tactile feel of books and magazines. I know I do. There’s nothing like sitting back with an old book, or the newest one that has the latest info. That said, I search online all the time, and seldom meet a person under 40 who isn’t wired online most of the time for their information. If we can’t bring our historical and martial interest to them in a format they use, then we never get to share it.
For well over 20 years, I’ve been taking my family to Leeds Castle in Kent, England on summer holidays. It’s a wonderful place, started in the 12th century and modernized many times. When you tour the castle, there is the library – a great old library with high ceilings and bookshelves filled with wonderful tomes dating back to the 1600s. There is a book there that I’ve always wanted to read written by Lord Paget in the 1800s. Lord Paget owned Leeds Castle, and in his service to the Crown was the leader of the Third Line of the Light Brigade in their famed charge during the Crimean War. He calls it Crimean Journals, published in 1881. Sometimes, I daydream about sitting in one of the big chairs in the library on a summer evening, cheroot in hand (unlit of course, I don’t smoke) and reading his stories of the Crimean War. Recently, I Googled that title and found it online. I read a bit, then stopped, because I very much want to sit back in that chair, and feel the paper in my hand and let my thoughts run with his story.
I get it, we like our physical books and magazines. However, we have to keep up with the new people or we’ll fail to pass on our interests, the lore and wizardry of arms dying off with us as we age. I hope the rest of our older readers will make it online to see the massive resource we’re building at smallarmsoftheworld.com so they can evolve with us.
Now that we’ve had time to analyze the changes we all face, firearms magazines seem to be one of the few magazines that can still sell on newsstands. We have some more changes to make that will benefit our readers. As of Volume 18, Number 1, we’ll be going to a bi-monthly format, and going back onto the newsstand, in force. We’ll keep our wonderful historical articles, but now we can expand the more arcane and narrowly focused ones into the online presentation, giving our readers access to much expanded versions of those articles. The print media only allows for a few pictures per article, and to expand the articles online, making them searchable, helps preserve the knowledge. This also allows us to present more of the marketable new products our readers want to know about.
Thus, the respite we had to take to back up and regroup, we had to take SAR to 4 times per year, and now we’re building back up to 6 times per year. We’re working towards some special editions, and an annual, but that’s another story for another day.
Debbie, Robert, and I, with the rest of the Usual Suspects of Small Arms Review, would like to thank you, our loyal readers, for sticking with us through these modern, changing times.
|This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V17N4 (December 2013)|