In Memoriam: NatGeo Adventure

I’m an old fashioned kind of guy.  I don’t have a fancy phone.  I like good black and white films.  And I prefer the printed page over the digital one.  I love the musty smell of the old books, those annals of yellowed paper wrapped in Moroccan leather.  Magazines have a special place in my heart as well.  I have shelves of old National Geographic Magazines lining my room, those beautiful yellow spines proudly displaying nouns like “Egypt,” “Humpback Whales,” and “Apollo 13” – hints at the adventures that lie within its covers.  I even like the newer magazines like Backpacker, Traveler, or Outside with their glossy pages packed with outdoor photography and stories of exploration.

NatGeo Covers

Part of my collection of National Geographic magazines

But old fashioned types like me don’t seem that common these days.  It’s becoming all about the digital age, where there’s a push to change information into one’s and zero’s.  It happened to music not too long ago.  Anyone remember the boom box? How about Tower Records back when they had isles of records? It was just ten years ago that the thought of fitting our entire collection of songs into a device the size of a teabag was only found in science fiction.

And now the cyber-eyes are looking at the printed page.  Each sale of Amazon’s Kindle seems like another death of a book.  Yesterday Apple announced their new iPad, a flat magazine-sized device that I’m certain will sell very well.  Sure, I read a lot of words on screens – even the ones I’m typing now – but there’s more to books and magazines than just the words on the page.  It’s about the physical space the book takes, an actual object you can hold, feel, and smell.  It’s the sound of the cracking spine as you open it or the sound that two pages make as you turn them.  It’s the dog-eared corner, underlined passage, or marginalia that captures a moment in time, connecting the book owner directly with the book.  It’s the feng shui of the page layout – the thought & care that went into the width of the gutter and the margin, the font size, the placement of the words and images on the page.  It’s the glossy feel of the magazine cover, how the colors can pop off the page and the words seem to have a weight to them.The Last Issue

Why do I wax poetically now, you ask?  Sadly, I recently found out that one of my favorite magazines has decided to cease publishing.  Without any fanfare, National Geographic Adventure magazine announced in December that its December 2009/January 2010 issue would be its last regular print edition.  Some say it was a decline in advertising dollars that ended the monthly mag.  But I think the editors saw the future, with its instant delivery of news and information with a push of a button tap of a screen.  Maybe someday we’ll see them as adventurers not only outside on the mountains but also in the publishing house, boldly cutting a path into unknown magazine publication territories.  But for now, I’ll miss the printed real version of the magazine I’ve known since its first issue more than a decade ago.

Dear John Letter

A 'Dear John' letter from National Geographic Adventure Magazine

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