Seen in the current issue of Publisher’s Weekly, and then corroborated in Forbes and various business press publications: F+W Media filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection about two weeks ago, listing only $2.5 million in cash on hand against over $100 million in debts.
Who is F+W Media? That’s the publisher of Writer’s Digest magazine and Writer’s Digest books. Actually, F+W Media is the publisher of over 40 special interest/enthusiast magazines and some 2,000 books. Between work and home, I subscribe to three F+W Media titles: Writer’s Digest, Print and HOW magazines, and was about to renew a lapsed subscription to The Artist’s Magazine (may take a wait and see on that renewal though). And sitting beside my keyboard right now is the 28th Annual Edition 2019 Guide To Literary Agents.
The why’s and how’s should be no mystery. Since 2015, subscriptions to their many titles have declined from around 33 million to just over 21 million, while ad revenues dropped from nearly $21 million to just shy of $14 million. Creditors include printers, paper companies, leaseholders and software companies, between 1,000 to 5,000 creditors, like R.R. Donnelley, Adobe and others.
F+W Media’s name comes from its earliest publications: Farm Quarterly and Writer’s Digest. In addition to art and professional graphic design magazines, they publish diverse titles about antiques, collectibles, crafts, sewing, hunting, and even Gun Digest. Whether a friendly savior will appear, or if individual titles and the book business can be successfully sold is unclear. I can live without a beading magazine or Gun Digest, but some can’t. But Writer’s Digest magazine was launched in 1920, long before I or anyone seeing this was around, and many of the very writers talked about here once (and perhaps still) read it, were interviewed in it or even wrote for it. It would be hard to imagine a world without Writer’s Digest magazine, should that occur.