Author Topic: Descent Magazine Readership  (Read 1721 times)

Online JackSherlock

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Descent Magazine Readership
« on: March 13, 2021, 08:29:07 pm »
Currently enjoying reading Descent 278, after finally retrieving it from my parent's home. After having a chat with my Dad, we were wondering what the total circulation is?  ;)




Online mikem

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Re: Descent Magazine Readership
« Reply #1 on: March 14, 2021, 07:44:32 am »
Well, the readership is normally a lot bigger than the circulation! (Most huts buy 2 copies, as they know one will get trashed)

Offline Badlad

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Re: Descent Magazine Readership
« Reply #2 on: March 14, 2021, 09:00:20 am »
As far as I know the Descent circulation  figures are not widely known (or available).  When support for Descent was discussed at BCA it was obvious the numbers were not going to be made available.  I guess if you were an advertiser in the magazine you could find out otherwise I guess it is guess work.

My guess is around 1000 copies, mostly by subscription with a few sold through retail outlets such as Inglesport.  You may have noticed Inglesport was advertising free copies to give away recently.  I do know that the number sold across the counter has halved in recent years.  That could indicate an overall decline but it could also indicate an increase in subscriptions.

Descent does seem to be pitched at those with a long interest in caving, mostly at the older end of the spectrum. Some folk I know question how long it will survive and think it unlikely to be replaced once the editors retire.  With such limited numbers, and in the digital age, we are lucky that there is a paper magazine for cavers at all.

Offline paul

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Re: Descent Magazine Readership
« Reply #3 on: March 14, 2021, 09:19:47 am »
Pre-internet I used to get all the caving news from Descent. I have been a subscriber for decades and have all the copies I bought.

Nowadays I find these magazines very useful for historical purposes even if you can get current news elsewhere.
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Online mikem

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Re: Descent Magazine Readership
« Reply #4 on: March 14, 2021, 10:11:02 am »
Didn't get an answer 15 years ago either, but several of the websites mentioned are now defunct:
https://ukcaving.com/board/index.php?topic=1208.0

Offline Pitlamp

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Re: Descent Magazine Readership
« Reply #5 on: March 14, 2021, 10:31:14 am »
I've been reading Descent since I was a child and have been inspired by loads of its content ever since. To me it's almost as much a part of British caving as the caves themselves. Badlad has a good point about how lucky we are to have it; Chris Howes and Judith Calford make almost superhuman efforts to keep the quality consistently high. We should be very grateful.

Offline JoshW

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Re: Descent Magazine Readership
« Reply #6 on: March 14, 2021, 12:10:08 pm »
I think descent is superb, and occasionally buy a copy (if I’m featured), but I already have way too many magazines around the house, and have managed to cancel the subscriptions.

I would appreciate a digital subscription model, but as I understand it, it’s not financially viable, which is a shame
All views are my own and not that of the BCA or any clubs for which I'm a member of.

Offline TheBitterEnd

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Re: Descent Magazine Readership
« Reply #7 on: March 14, 2021, 10:08:27 pm »
and think it unlikely to be replaced once the editors retire.  With such limited numbers, and in the digital age, we are lucky that there is a paper magazine for cavers at all.

Perhaps off topic but I really think it is important to have some form of "journal of record" for UK caving, general news, digs, discoveries and developments, expeds, etc. Websites in general are rubbish for this (UK Caving might be a bit of an exception in that regard) but I would hope that if Decent ever did cease publication the BCA or some group would take over that role and in print, or in some other journalistic form that its permanent, archived and readily available.
'Never argue with a fool, onlookers may not be able to tell the difference.' — Mark Twain

Online mrodoc

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Re: Descent Magazine Readership
« Reply #8 on: March 15, 2021, 09:33:40 am »
You will miss it when it's gone. As a contributor to caving mags for over half a century.  I think its' a shame that Descent is seen as a magazine for older cavers.  Perhaps I am unusual but the first thing I did when I started caving was take out a subscription to Speleologist magazine. It introduced me to people like Jim Eyre. Although we  theoretically have access to a vast pool of caving data on the internet, I still find myself referring to old copies of Descent for information. I have to repeat it again as Goon does in the latest GSG Bulletin that  until we have consistency with our databases hard copy is needed as information is lost quite easily.  There is a generation out there who seem to think nothing exists until it is online!

Offline Cavematt

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Re: Descent Magazine Readership
« Reply #9 on: March 15, 2021, 11:12:29 am »
I couldn’t agree more with what Pitlamp has said above.

Since my student caver days (15 years ago), Descent has been THE place for new discovery and exploration to be reported. My digging group still feel the same, and while social media (including of course this forum) are great for news, debate, snippets, PR, discussion, questions, updates, in terms of significant new discovery reports, it has to be Descent first for us, and I cannot see that changing, for us, and probably many others.

Getting your discovery, photos and surveys in physical print (especially when laid out and presented so professionally) just cannot be beaten.

What is changing is the way people consume news. A problem with Descent is that often by the time a story actually makes it to print, the moment for broadcasting it has passed, and this is where live online platforms really help getting stuff out there at the point it is most relevant.

My feeling is that, should Chris and Judith decide to step back from Descent for a well-deserved break, there is definitely a future in a printed magazine; but possibly reduced to quarterly, with a focus on new discovery/exploration and more ‘meaty’ news stories, complemented by an online presence for other ‘of the moment’ and smaller news stories. I always thought that the Darkness Below format is the kind of thing that would work well if run by Descent (i.e. unbiased, professionally managed) to complement a scaled down physical publication focusing on the meatier stories, assuming new editors could be found of course. Whether there would be sufficient money to be made in such a format, I don’t know, but this could be somewhere the BCA could perhaps step in.

However, I’d be extremely happy to see Descent continue in its current format, and we will continue to subscribe and support it for as long as it exists.

York Caving Club

Offline Badlad

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Re: Descent Magazine Readership
« Reply #10 on: March 15, 2021, 11:46:30 am »
I always thought Caves & Caving was a fine publication too.  For factual reporting, discoveries, expeditions etc it was seen as a better place than Descent for the 'journal of record' type reports.  Descent was more story based where as C&C was generally more formal reporting as you'd expect from a BCRA published magazine.  The two worked well together.  Sadly C&C passed away and attempts by BCA to replace it over the years have never worked, now limited to just an occasional newsletter that only reaches a small proportion of the membership. 

Should Descent wither it would be great to see someone, individuals or an organisation, step up and take over.

Online mrodoc

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Re: Descent Magazine Readership
« Reply #11 on: March 15, 2021, 11:51:24 am »
All I can say that the editor of Descent myself and several other well known cavers are now about three score and ten so some thought needs to be given to this issue and I will support any moves BCA wished to make in this direction. There are younger cavers who might interested in something like this.  The place to start is perhaps with editors of club magazines/Journals/Bulletins as possible candidates.

Online pwhole

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Re: Descent Magazine Readership
« Reply #12 on: March 15, 2021, 03:13:45 pm »
Hahah, I'm already down for Mining History, BCRA Annual Review, Derbyshire Caver and the TSG Journal, so I shall refrain from putting my name forward  :weep:

Online Speleofish

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Re: Descent Magazine Readership
« Reply #13 on: March 22, 2021, 08:43:09 pm »
I've always been a huge fan of Descent and I enjoyed Caves and Caving. We can do without C&C (reluctantly) but losing both would be a huge shame. Yes, online stuff will work for a year or so but having a genuine, paper-based record of caving activity is priceless. However, this is a decision for youthful cavers - it's your sport and it's up to you to ensure it's properly recorded.

Online mrodoc

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Re: Descent Magazine Readership
« Reply #14 on: March 23, 2021, 09:13:48 am »
It costs far less to produce and print a caving publication than it used to. I suspect if Descent did disappear somebody else would start something similar.  The full colour Belfry Bulletin costs  less in equivalent value to produce than did the black and white Speleologist did 50 years ago. Desk top publishing has created a revolution. Anybody doing this could start small and build from that base.  One possible sponsor of a future start up might be a caving shop or equipment manufacturer. Providing it wasn't running at a loss it would at the very least be promotional. What we don't want though is regional bias but that depends partly on individuals putting pens to paper or fingers to keyboards. Anyway those are my thoughts after a minute's reflection.

Offline yrammy

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Re: Descent Magazine Readership
« Reply #15 on: March 23, 2021, 09:41:53 am »
We at the British Caving library have a full set and we do get quite a few enquiries for back copy articles and often use them for research enquiries.
 
Gradually many journals are going electronic across the world.

Mary

Offline Badlad

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Re: Descent Magazine Readership
« Reply #16 on: March 23, 2021, 12:11:08 pm »
Not many caving shops left either mrodoc. 

Offline 2xw

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Re: Descent Magazine Readership
« Reply #17 on: March 23, 2021, 12:26:56 pm »
Think it's the time rather than the cost. We tend not to value time worked in various caving volunteering/admin etc

Online pwhole

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Re: Descent Magazine Readership
« Reply #18 on: March 23, 2021, 01:09:39 pm »
You're not wrong there - who do I send my invoice to?  :bounce:

Online mrodoc

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Re: Descent Magazine Readership
« Reply #19 on: March 23, 2021, 03:26:18 pm »
Perhaps it will return to the Gerard Platten days of a home produced Journal like the British Caver.

 

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