Digital media choked the life out of another legacy media member today when New York-based Harris Publications went down for the count. Founded in 1977, Harris was well known in the firearms industry for their line of tactical orientated gun magazines. Titles like Ballistic, Guns & Weapons for Law Enforcement, AK47 and Soviet Weapons, Tactical Weapons and Survivors Edge and many others were part of their stable. Despite being an important player in the firearms industry though, Harris made the unforgivable mistake of falling behind the times, and paid the price. After almost 40 years, Harris Publications notified their employees today and informed them the company is closing its doors for good.
How did this happen to one of the largest print content developers in the firearms industry? The answer can be gleaned from the statement the company released:
It is with great sadness that we are announcing the closing of Harris Publications. For nearly 40 years, Harris Publications has been a mainstay in enthusiast publishing.
We are extremely grateful for the tremendous contributions of our employees, past and present. The hard work and dedication of our creative, sales, circulation and operations teams and the talents of our freelance editors, writers, photographers and designers are what allowed us to continue delivering thoughtful and beautiful magazines to our readers.
The magazine publishing industry has been through turmoil in the face of the rapid ascendance of digital media, changing consumer content preferences, magazine wholesaler struggles and consolidation in the supply chain. We have tried mightily to persevere against these forces, but have been unable to overcome these challenges.
Basically Harris Publications fell behind the times and failed to evolve to meet the current needs of their customers. Harris going under follows hard on the heels of another iconic print title, Soldier of Fortune magazine disappearing from the newsstand. Soldier of Fortune, a power house in the 1980s, recently abandoned print due to poor sales. Their April 2016 issue was their last for print. They have now transitioned over entirely to the web. Just prior to Soldier of Fortune abandoning print FMG Publications closed their Special Edition division. With the demise of FMG Publication’s Special Edition division, Soldier of Fortune and now Harris Publications we wonder which print brand will go next. None of the remaining traditional media houses in the firearms industry have a grasp on how to create content for the web. You can see technology, and the world, passing them by. As more ad dollars are spent on digital content and fewer on traditional media, it is only a matter of time before other famous firearm titles pass into history.