Surfer mag closes after sixty years of publishing
...and then there were none.
First Transworld Surf, then Surfing, and now Surfer magazine has closed too, leaving mainland USA without any surf mag titles.
For the record, Hawaii still has the advertiser-supported Freesurf, and the The Surfer's Journal is still printing their quarterly surf lit.
The long-prophesised 'death of print' was never going to be sudden nor absolute, but with Surfer - the first surf magazine and its most celebrated - gone, the symbolic milestone has come to pass in surf culture.
In 1960, high school teacher John Severson published the first issue of Surfer (called The Surfer) as a 36-page pamphlet to accompany his film 'Surf Fever'. Quickly rebranded as Surfer, it documented the sixties surf boom - and every surf boom thereafter - plus developments such as the shortboard revolution, and the advent of professional surfing.
Never as popular in Australia, which had its own heritage and upstart titles, magazines that moved in lockstep with Oz surf culture, Surfer nevertheless garnered respect for its history, plus its writers and photographers.
Despite outlasting a slew of competing titles, Surfer couldn't compete with the digital onslaught, regularly searching for new business models - the Surfer Bar franchise, $1 subs, various iterations of Surfer.com - before being packaged up in a suite of action titles as the publisher went through a number of acquisitions and rebrands (For Better Living, to Peterson, to EMAP, to Primedia, to Source Interlink, to The Enthusiast Network, to Adventure Sports Network), who then handballed said titles to American Media Incorporated, who in turn rebranded to A360 Media. The instability an indication of declining fortunes.
This year, COVID accelerated the decline with staff numbers slashed and those remaining furloughed, before the final decision was made on Friday.
Here in Australia, three print titles remain, each in various operating states. Tracks have temporarily suspended subscription sales, stating, "a decision is yet to be made regarding the future schedule as this largely depends on international developments," while Australia's longest running magazine, Surfing World, was recently purchased by Sean Doherty and Jon Frank, and White Horses - the Oz version of TSJ - keeps galloping along.