F+W Media, Owner of Krause, Bankrupt
This happened a couple of months ago, but I just found out about it. I don’t know that it will have much practical effect, but there’s an historical component that made me nostalgic.
F+W Media is a publisher of hobby and specialist magazines, books, and price guides, including Writer’s Digest, Goldmine, Antique Trader, Old Cars Weekly, Numismatic News, and Impact Books (which put out volumes on how to draw manga and comics, among others). (This field is known as “enthusiast media”.) They declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy in March.
In 2002, F+W bought Krause Publications, out of Iola, Wisconsin. They were best known for Comics Buyer’s Guide, the comic industry’s weekly newspaper, which ceased publication in 2013 after over 40 years in existence.
Many of these publications once made a lot of money by providing a place for hobbyists to place classified ads that they knew would go to a dedicated audience. With the transition to online in the late 2000s, that source of revenue declined, as did numbers of subscribers. F+W tried to switch to e-commerce, selling items related to the various hobbies they covered, but that required a lot of investment in technology, products, and fulfillment. The older collector audience also seems to prefer print publications to the various websites F+W established.
F+W is seeking to sell assets. According to a local source, “The company took in $67.6 million in revenue in 2018 and had $105.5 million in debt, according to court filings.” They also laid off 40% of their employees that year, including replacing the CEO and other executives.
Publisher’s Weekly had reported that F+W had planned to have sold off their book division by the end of this month, so I thought maybe you were reporting on the success or failure of that. Back in March (and earlier), Chapter 7 was the worry, not that folks who are owed money think Chapter 11 much better, but at least with 7, the various magazines may continue.