Newspapers and magazines have taken the brunt of the rapid switch to an electronic-based information system in recent years. The impact has been felt in the sports memorabilia industry with various cutbacks taking place on the number and variety of print issues produced and the size of many of the hobby's long-running publications. Now, F+W Publications, parent company of Tuff Stuff Collectors Monthly and Sports Collectors Digest, has laid off four sports editorial staff members and will cease publication of Tuff Stuff after the upcoming February issue.
Tuff Stuff, which began 25 years ago, caters mostly to collectors of modern era cards. The magazine featured a color cover, with articles and pricing information inside. It was one of the few hobby publications with a distribution base that included many drug, grocery and convenience stores across North America.
Staffers say declining ad revenue was the reason for the sudden shutdown of the magazine.
In addition, Sports Collectors Digest, a hobby staple since the mid-1970s, will stop publishing a weekly issue, returning instead to a bi-monthly publication schedule. SCD began as a bi-monthly release until it moved to weekly distribution as the hobby began to attract a larger audience of adults in the mid-to-late 1980s.
The moves have cost some long-time employees their jobs. SCD editor T.S. O'Connell, who began working for Krause Publications 17 years ago confirmed that he along with Tuff Stuff editor Scott Fragale and Joe Clemens, collectible sports card analyst for both publications, have been laid off effective later this week.
Krause, based in Iola, Wisconsin, sold its interests in the hobby publications to Cincinnati-based F+W several years ago. The new company had been quietly paring employees from its sports division for several years.
Tom Bartsch has been retained by the company and will become editor of SCD.
In a blog written this week, Bartsch said some of Tuff Stuff's elements will be carried over to SCD.
"There will be more coverage of the modern-card market, including release information, product highlights and trends in the new-card hobby with insight into possible investment material," he wrote. " We will also have more pricing information, particularly on the autograph market, something SCD readers indicated they would like to see more of, along with more former player interviews, collector profiles and features on oddball memorabilia."
Readers who had a subscription won't see any extension despite the cutback to every other week.
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