The Dying Voices of Preparedness
Will American Survivor be the last preparedness
and survival publication in print?
I was just informed that Backwoods Home magazine will cease publication. This is yet another casualty of blogs, U-tube and free internet content. Backwoods Home was a philosophically a survival magazine, but had a severely limited range. Being published in the Oregon back-country, there was a lot about cabin building, goat raising and jam making and not much about urban and suburban survival concerns. That limited its appeal to less than 10-percent of the population. The cost of paper publication printing and mailing against electronic publication is rapidly reducing the number and size of existing survival and preparedness publications. Even the NRA’s National Rifleman and National Geographic’s magazines are down to less than half of their previous number of pages. Recently Harris Publications ceased publishing Survivors Edge (Harris went entirely out of business), Survivalist magazine and Prepper and Shooter magazines’ have also stopped publication. There are still a number of survival/preparedness magazines published occasionally under various titles found on newsstand shelves. Bugout magazine is still in print as a subscription magazine as is Self-Reliance and Mother Earth News. More alarming is the declining number of good survival and preparedness books being printed. Live Free USA buys survival related books from out-off-print book dealers to sell at expositions, meetings and gun shows. Many of these books are not being reprinted again and are now permanently out-of-print,.
It is unfortunate to see this casualty-rate among printed publications. In my opinion, blogs, posts, email letters and websites lack the quality, depth and sustainability of magazines, newsletters and books.
American Survivor was originally published as “Directions” and then “New Directions” by Live Free starting in the early 1970’s The first issues were actually mimeographed. We are the oldest established and surviving survival/preparedness publication in America. We have survived because (1) we are not trying to make a profit and do not need to make a living at it and (2) we have been dedicated to the cause through its ups-and-downs for decades. At one point in the 1990’s we were down to about 55-issues. Back in the 1980’s we put out a 16-page issue every month. Today we distribute about 500 printed copies ever-other month, but many more are downloaded off the website. I have also found that people have kept back issues from our earliest times in binders. I am reluctant to go to an email only distribution of American Survivor for several reasons.
• About 30% of our members never provide an email address and would probably not renew at all.
• Email publications dump into an ocean of on-line publications, most of-which few have time to find, download and print or read. Personally, I have no time to read 90% of my incoming email and I never download any forwarded stuff.
• Existing email survival magazines seem to be focused on profit and selling stuff to readers, rather than in-depth material.
• Postage and printing are still affordable enough to mail these issues as long as we have help with assembly and stamping.
The real issue is continuity. Most of our writers are well past 60 and volunteers for editing, assembling and managing are harder and harder to find. In the past we have had a number of other editor’s take over, but quit after a year or two after changing the format or running consistently late issues. Recovery and rebuilding then made more work for me. This is why I hang on to this simple format and basic content. We have hundreds of articles in stock and we could even expand the size and circulation if we had others to handle editing, production and mailing. Meanwhile, I will hang on for a few more years if necessary.
Other survival and preparedness publications in my archives are;
• Preparedness Journal: this was a low-budget magazine that was published for a few years late 1990’s focused on the Y2K issue.
• Practical Survival: Published in the late 1980’s through the mid 1990’s
• Survive: a slick, well-illustrated magazine published by the same folks that publish Soldier of Fortune magazine. Published from the early 1980’s to the mid 1990’s
• Survive Tomorrow: A multi-page newsletter that was numbered to be placed in a binder. This was published through the 1980,s
• Survival News: A basic newsletter published out of Riverside IL in the 1980s
• Australasian Survivor: Published by the Aussies in the mid 1980’s
• American Survival Guide: Published From the early 1980’s through the early 1990’s. This was by-far the widest-read and longest-running survival preparedness publication in America. They featured several articles about Live Free USA including our 25th anniversary recognition with yours-truly on the cover, repelling down a cliff.
The above publications ceased distribution because there was a significant decline in interest and support for survival and preparedness immediately after the end of the Cold War. Most survival organizations dissolved and Live Free USA had to drastically reduce publications and activities to survive through this period. Only our loyal, hard-core members and mission dedication kept us going.