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At the helm: Charting a course for the next 90 years

By David Gee

In 1929, an enterprising, entrepreneurial boating enthusiast by the name of James W. Peaslee decided what the world needed was a publication “devoted exclusively to the interests of the boat and motor dealer, and builder.” With that, BOATING BUSINESS was launched, just as the stock market crashed.

Fortunately, the recreational boating business in this country survived, as did BOATING BUSINESS, which later gave way to Boating Industry in 1938.

Of course, a lot has changed in the boating business. Today you obviously can’t buy an outboard motor for $150, or a runabout for $297, as you could nine decades ago.

And much has changed in publishing since the time a Brit named Edward Cave invented the word magazine from the Arabic word makhazin, or storehouse.

You could argue I suppose that magazines will never again reach the peak of their popularity. However, they still have the power to inspire, inform, educate, entertain and reach lots of people.

The number of magazines published in the U.S. has stayed fairly constant over recent years at just slightly over 7,200. The total number of magazine readers in the U.S. has actually seen a slight increase in the past five or six years. And total revenue for all U.S. periodical publishers will be an estimated $28.2 billion this year.

Obviously the advent of the internet and the digital landscape was totally disruptive, and for our part, Boating Industry, and our parent company, EPG Media LLC, have happily embraced new platforms and channels.

But as I personally heard over and over again from those who stopped by our Boating Industry booth at IBEX, plenty of people still like the old school version of our magazines, i.e., the printed one.

However you consume the stories and data and information we create, we appreciate you, and try to never take our stakeholders or audience for granted.

In the second issue of BOATING BUSINESS, they published some of the letters they received in response to the first issue.

One of them was from H. Biersach, of Milwaukee, Wis., who happened to be secretary and treasurer of the Evinrude Division of Outboard Motors Corporation.

He writes, “After reading the magazine I can’t help but feel that you have started something that has a very distinct place in the boating field. I feel confident you are going to make a success of it.”

It did prove successful thankfully. And we have endeavored for 90 years to make – and keep – a distinct place in the boating field. Thanks for sharing the journey with us so far, and we look forward to our future.   

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