30 Day Baseball Card Challenge

Saturday, February 17, 2018

The Decline of Print Media

Earlier in the week, one of my friends and I were talking about how fortunate we've been to witness our world's transition into The Digital Age.  When I was a little kid, personal computers weren't even a thing.  Within a decade or so, half of the people I went to school with had either a PC or a Mac sitting in their home.  A few years after that companies like AOL and Prodigy offered us a ticket to surf the internet.  And by the time I graduated from San Jose State in the mid 90's, people were shopping and collectors were trading online.

Life would be much more challenging without a computer and the internet.  I use it on a daily basis at work and at home to watch tv, input grades, listen to music, create presentations, pay bills, shop online, write blog posts, read your blogs, and a bunch of other things.

But The Digital Age isn't perfect.  Cyber-bullying, identity theft, and online scams are just a few of the drawbacks.  I could probably dedicate a post to each of these topics and somehow tie them into sports cards.  However today's post is about another issue: the decline of print media.

When I was a kid, my family always had a huge stack of magazines sitting under one of our couch's end tables.  Everyone in my family had multiple subscriptions to add to the stack, but if I were to guess, I'd say that my mom and I had the most.  I always had at least two or three, plus the single issues I'd beg my mom to buy at the store.

My childhood favorites were Baseball Digest, Mad, Tuff Stuff, Baseball CardsSport, Dynamite!, Highlights, Surfer, Beckett BaseballStreet and Smith's Baseball, Nintendo Power, National Lampoon, and Thrasher Magazine.

Thanks to The Digital Age, I down to only three magazines subscriptions: ESPN, Baseball Digest, and Sports Illustrated for Kids.

My subscription to ESPN gives me access to online content on their website.  Baseball Digest is the only magazine left that I try to read cover to cover.

But you might be asking yourself, why does a forty-five year old man subscribe to a kids magazine?

Well if you're familiar with this blog, then you already know.  But just in case you need a refresher... it's all about the sheet of trading cards included in each month's issue of Sports Illustrated for Kids.  There are two main things that make their cards worthy of this collector's subscription.

#1:  Each nine card sheet of trading cards features at least two females which is pretty cool since most trading card products contain 99% male athletes.

#2:  You always get at least three or four cards featuring athletes from lesser publicized sports like lacrosse, rugby, surfing, ice skating, volleyball, skateboarding, mountain biking, gymnastics, motocross, and snowboarding.

Now I enjoy collecting all-male baseball card sets as much as any other baseball card collector out there.  However every now and then, it's kinda cool to write about something different.

I'm not sure how many of my readers are snowboarding fans, but I know I've been waiting to see Chloe Kim's Olympic debut for quite some time.  I remember watching her win the silver medal at the 2014 Winter X Games SuperPipe competition at thirteen years of age.  She'd follow that performance up with three more gold medal performances in Aspen over a four year period.

But seriously... the biggest stage would be at PyeongChang 2018 where millions of people would be watching to see her compete against the world's best.

Unless you've been living under a rock, you know that she lived up to lofty expectations and won the gold medal for Team USA in front of her supportive family which included her 75 year old grandmother who was watching her granddaughter compete in person for the very first time.

Topps included cards of Kim in their 2018 US Olympic and Paralympic Hopeful product, including several different autographed cards that are commanding hundreds of dollars.

2016 SI for Kids #510 Chloe Kim

But did you know that Sports Illustrated for Kids beat Topps to the punch by nearly two years when they issued a card of her in their April 2014 issue?

Although this card isn't rare and will never be worth hundreds of dollars... it's still a cool piece of cardboard featuring one of the most infectious smiles at the 2018 Winter Olympics.

It's also a nice reminder that even though print media may be on the decline, it isn't dead yet.

What are some of your favorite childhood magazines?  Do you still have any magazine subscriptions?

Long live Sports Illustrated for Kids and their monthly trading cards sheets.  And congratulations Chloe for becoming the youngest female to win an Olympic gold medal on snow.

Happy Saturday and sayonara!


  1. I teach a media effects theory class. Last week, I asked my class (140 students) to raise their hand if they had read a non-academic book within the last 12 months. Six people raised their hands. I asked about magazines, and only 20 (roughly) hands went up. It's a sad time for anything in print.

  2. Great topic, the problem with magazine subscriptions today is they are a shell of what they were in the 70s/80s.Plus most of the weekly's are now bi-weekly and monthly are bi-monthly. I still subscribe to Playboy but it is now bi monthly.

  3. I subscribe to a lot of magazines: Hemmings Classic Car, Hemmings Motor News, Archaeology, Current World Archaeology, National Geographic History, Sports Illustrated, SI for Kids, The Numismatist, Scale Auto, Fine Scale Modeler, and probably a few more I'm forgetting- plus 5 monthly comic books. I used to read more than 40 comics a month and several other car magazines but they have either been cancelled, changed so much I lost interest, or can't afford them anymore. Collectible Automobile is a great publication but at $46 for 6 issues I just can't justify it.

  4. Wonderful post. I didn't even realize SI for Kids was still around! I remember getting the Beckett Monthly as well as one or two Big Books of baseball card prices (don't remember what they were called or who published them). Got Sport Collectors Digest for a while. I also liked Tiger Beat! Mostly for the lyrics to songs (made much easier by the digital age for sure. Currently I subscribe to one magazine, Fine Books & Collections. I've been thinking about signing up for Baseball Digest, though. Is it worth it? And each spring I read one or three of the baseball season previews (not the fantasy baseball ones).

  5. Dude, proud worker for the print media for the last 30 years.

    I read so many magazines as a kid I couldn't possibly name them all. There was a magazine for just about everything. But I'll give it a try:

    Baseball Digest, Sports Illustrated, Inside Sports, Baseball Magazine. Baseball Cards Magazine, Sports Magazine, Dynamite, Mad, Cracked, Crazy, Highlights magazine, People, Life, TV Guide, Jack and Jill, Ranger Rick Magazine, Boys Life, Sporting News, Bananas, Sesame Street Magazine

  6. I too (at almost 54) still subscribe to SI for Kids for the card sheets. Also loved and had subscriptions for Topps Magazine, Air Classics, Wings, Air Combat, Dynamite, Fine Scale Modeler.

  7. As a kid I had subscriptions to Mad, Baseball Digest, Topps (briefly), and Ranger Rick. Our house also got a bunch including National Geographic.

    Now? Multiple alumni magazines, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Granta, and The Week.

  8. Sorry, Fuji, I can't hear you - I have a banana in my ear.

    I laughed out loud (and my wife asked me what was so funny) when I saw that issue of Dynamite with Radar & Hawkeye on the cover. I have that issue of Dynamite #1 around here somewhere, and I was thinking of scanning and sharing it on the blog... and here it is! (or the cover, anyway)

    I read a bunch of magazines in my childhood and teen years... Dynamite, Mad, Cracked, Boys Life, Baseball Digest, Football Digest, Hockey Digest, The Sporting News, Baseball Hobby News, Starlog, Asimov's Science Fiction, National Lampoon (don't tell my mom!), Omni... not to mention comic books.

    Currently I subscribe to four magazines... plus two or three comics each month. I have to admit I don't read many books because I struggle to keep up on the magazines and comics (and blogs, of course).

  9. It's tough remembering all the magazines I read, but Mad was a favorite subscription for a long time. That 1982 special brings back some good memories. I'm part way through selling a big chunk of my Mad collection to fund card purchases (keeping some I can't give up... print media will live on for at least as long as I do).

  10. Fuji, what a walk down memory lane. I love reading Nintendo Power, Mad, and anything that has to do with video games. What I’d do to still be able to get subscriptions to those magazines. The internet is definitely a game changer. Great post.

  11. I miss print media. Too much digital to me. I don't want o stare at a screen all of the time. I want to pick up an issue to read right in front of me. Same reason I don't do digital cards. I like physical things.

    I subscribe to SI For Kids as well. Hope they never stop printing

  12. Right now I have zero subscriptions. I usually have SI and SI for Kids via airline miles, but forgot to renew them. I never read the SIs and they just stacked up on my house. Most times they'd go in the trash without me ever even opening.

    Growing up, I usually had Circle Track, Road and Track, SportsCar, Beckett Baseball, and occasionally Tuff Stuf. I never really like the magazines like Mad.

  13. Excellent article Fuji! I'm grateful to have lived in a time of multi-magazine subscriptions. National Geographic World, Highlights, Bananas, 16 Magazine, Tiger Beat, Beckett, Topps, Tuff Stuff, Acoustic Guitar. Today the postman still delivers SI and SI for Kids. Usually SIK goes to my favorite 9 year old but sometimes I keep an issue for myself. A visit to B&N sometimes has me purchasing Acoustic Guitar, Writer's Digest or special tribute magazines.

  14. Love print magazines but cost, priorities and many transitioning to online they just aren't that many I really enjoy. Star Wars Insider, Non Sport Update and a military history magazine are my lone holdouts but even those may go to the waste-side sometime in the future. Good stuff. I remember the cards in SI kids and the cards always stood out.

  15. As a kid I had GI Joe magazine for a while. Nintendo Power. Beckett. A few Marvel comics. Later I had Sports Illustrated, and as a teen I got Rolling Stone and Spin. Gotta admit I got Playboy for a year or two in the late 90s. Maybe Guitar World. No subscriptions anymore. I'm close to finishing my first book in a few years (Ball Four).

  16. J. Meeks - Wow only 6 of your students had read a non-academic book in the past 12 months. Print media is declining faster than I thought. Sounds like a really cool class though.

    sg488 - Very true. Playboy is now bi-monthly? I remember subscribing to them 15 to 20 years ago when they had killer subscription rates. I think I paid $12 for 12 issues... or something like that.

    Billy Kingsley - Between your blog, your collection, and all of those magazine subscriptions... I'd love to see how you manage your time.

    Peter K. Steinberg - Oh man... Tiger Beat and song lyrics. That's a blast from the past. Baseball Digest is my favorite magazine out there, but it's pretty pricey. The only reason I have the subscription is b/c my school has a magazine fundraiser and teachers get 45% off of the subscription deals.

    night owl - Great list. I'm embarrassed that I missed some of them on mine. I definitely had a subscription to Jack and Jill, Ranger Rick, and Boys Life. And I was so bummed when The Sporting News stopped printing their magazine. They're right up there with Baseball Digest as one of my favorite magazines of all-time.

    The Angels In Order - Topps Magazine is another classic magazine that features cards. I've written at least one or two posts on them as well.

    Nick Vossbrink - My parents had a collection of National Geographic that spanned decades. Sadly, I think it ended up getting recycled when they moved. The New Yorker? I've seen it on the magazine rack, but never picked up a copy. Always looks fancy though.

    shlabotnikreport - Lol. My mom bought me a subscription to National Lampoon, because she thought it was a kid's magazine. I'm the same way about books. There's just too many other things to read out there.

    Steve at 1975BaseballCards.com - Nice. Hope you're able to make a killing off of them. I'll pick up a copy every now and then at the flea market if the price is right.

    SumoMenkoMan - Thanks. Nintendo Power was a great magazine. Found a guy who had the first 10 to 20 issues with him at the flea market (or was it a card show). Anyways... he was asking $200 or something crazy like that. I guess they're pretty collectible.

    Sport Card Collectors - Yeah. I can't get into the digital cards either. I'll read online articles from time to time and of course all of the different blogs out there, but that's about the extent of my digital reading.

    The Lost Collector - I purposely left Sports Illustrated off of my list. I had several subscriptions to that magazine, but never liked it. I'm more of a graphs and charts kind of guy, which is why I preferred The Sporting News and Inside Sports.

    Julie Owens - You're so nice to hook up your favorite 9 year old. I bring the SI for Kids into my classroom for my students to check out... but that's only after I've taken out the cards ;) As for B&N, during the summer, I love going in and plopping myself down in front of their magazine rack, while enjoying their AC. Although I recently invested a ton of $$$ into a new AC unit for my place, so this summer I'll be spending it at home reading blogs.

    Bulldog - They still print Non Sport Update? I had a subscription years ago (mainly for the promo cards). Great magazine. Star Wars Insider is a great magazine too. That's one of the magazines I'll grab when I hang out at B&N.

    defgav - I had a subscription to Rolling Stone for a few years, because it was so affordable. Love the covers, but never really read the articles. I have a digital copy of Ball Four, but I just can't get myself to read a book off of my iPad. I need to just get out there and buy a hard copy of that book.

  17. As a kid I had subscriptions to Sport magazine, Baseball Digest and The Sporting News. And I spent a lot of my paper route money on the pulp mags that showed up at our local 'candy store' ....Sport World, Dell Baseball, etc. It wasn't all sports though. I sometimes bought those crappy music scene mags and I always got my Boy's Life while I was a Scout.

    Of course I spent a long time working for the late lamented Houston Post. I miss having that paper in my hands every morning. I went to see The Post over the weekend. So much nostalgia in the scenes of the Linotype operators, presses and such. I felt very nostalgic leaving the theater.

    Currently I receive SI, Sports Collector's Digest, Motor Trend, a Mustang Club monthly and I still get teachers union mags.

    Digital publications are fine but they will never replace the enjoyment of holding paper in my hands.

  18. Used to get Ranger Rick as a kid. Have stacks of Mad and Cracked from the 80's. Got SI in the 90's and still have most of them, though I cut out pictures from some. Subscribed thru a dealer to several dozen comics during the junk wax era, which is why I didn't have many of the cards.

    Sometime in the late 90's to early 2000's I got stuck on one of those big discount subscription plans. After a while it was just too much and really expensive. I swore off subscriptions after that.

    I do get SCD now. Much prefer the physical copy too.