Tuesday, July 22, 2014
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Welcome to the New New West

Welcome to the New New West

Welcome to the new New West! It’s been too long – some 17 months – since the last new stories were published on the site. It’s no secret the previous New West owners ran into the same economic buzzsaw that so heavily impacted the West, comprising the core of this website’s readership.

The site’s assets were acquired by August Publications, founded in 2002 as a Web-publishing company. We’ve taken the past several months working on a modernization plan: a modern business plan and a modern publishing platform. You’re seeing the results of the modern publishing platform – hello WordPress, goodbye creaky Expression Engine – and the modern business plan bears a little explanation.

One thing the previous owners found was that it’s extremely hard to run a business that relies on ad impressions as the main source of revenue. If a site is run right, it can work – August Publications has been profitable while relying on ad revenues as a core part of the financial formula – but it’s hard. And while New West was a critical success since its founding, critical success doesn’t always mean financial success.

Publishing firms these days must diversify revenue streams. (Yeah, we know this sounds dreadfully MBA-ish, but it’s true.) It’s our belief that we’re entering a new age of paid content driven by the Internet. Five years ago August Publications dropped out of the book-publishing field because booksellers were facing dire times in the face of Amazon.com and an antiquated book-selling system that looked more like a Ponzi scheme than a rational business model. (Let’s just say we all suffered financially when Borders slid into bankruptcy; publishers essentially financed the firm because publishing is a consignment business, and were left holding the bag when the company disappeared.)

Since then, there’s been a rally in the book-publishing world. Independent booksellers like Missoula’s Shakespeare and Co., Red Lodge Books, Book People of Moscow and Salt Lake City’s Weller Book Works are important gathering spots and truly hearts of their communities. eBook are serious business propositions, not just novelties consigned to the tech crowd. And people are more comfortable in buying books directly from publishers. Since we’ve reentered the book field, we’ve notched several bestsellers on the Amazon.com best-seller lists and engaged with a national political magazine to produce a monthly eBook. Paid content is now a business reality, and soon you’ll see an announcement about the launch of New West Books. We have some titles in the pipeline ranging from low-priced eSingles to full-fledged print books. And we plan on bringing back events as a way to connect with readers.

Changes

We will be running the site differently than under previous owners. No more hyperlocal: that approach seems to have failed as a business model, and it’s a lot of work for a small reward. A big website should cover big stories. You can expect 3-5 new stories a week.

Second, we’ve overhauled the commenting system and will using moderated Facebook Comments.

We’re excited about the relaunch of New West and would love to hear from you. Feel free to send us a note at editors@newwest.net.

 Kevin Reichard

About August Publications
August Publications was formed in 2002. Its websites include Yellowstone Insider, Ballpark Digest, and Spring Training Online. Books in print include The Baseball Thesaurus, The Complete Guide to Spring Training, and Goodfellows: The Champions of St. Ambrose.

Image via Flickr.

About New West Editors