words: George Achorn, photo: Denis Podmarkov
Editor’s note: This article originally ran in the Q1 2019 issue of quattro magazine. Editor-in-chief, George Achorn, explains why the magazine was redesigned.
Over the holiday weekend, while running errands in our family Q7, I found myself listening to a talk show. The guest was an author of a book about dinosaurs and something he said really struck me. “Whenever I hear the word ‘dinosaur’ used as a put down for something obsolete, I get angry. It wasn’t that dinosaurs couldn’t adapt. They got hit by a massive extinction event and only the lowest on the food chain survived ,” he argued.
It’s been about a year and a half since I took over this magazine. Shortly after being tasked with the book, I carried our Winter 2018 edition, my first issue, to the New York Auto Show and slid it across the table to a trusted colleague from Audi. “Be honest,” I instructed, “What do you see and what don’t you see?”
I’ll admit. I came in a skeptic. I ran a web-only Audi-focused platform for years. Last year, the club was putting the finishing wraps on its own freshened foray into web space and here I was taking the helm of its print magazine. At the time, I didn’t appreciate the beloved and premium space that magazines still hold. That’s when my secondary education in Audi enthusiast publishing began.
Planning a print magazine is decidedly a different ask than placing regular content on a website. I’m used to doing most of it myself but that wasn’t what was needed in the case of a book that serves a large membership. For that, I turned to many talented contributors with hopes to find many more as time goes by.
Then, European Car Magazine shut down. I was sad to see it go. I’d cut my enthusiast teeth reading that book as a kid. It guided me in upgrading my first car and stoked the flame of my automotive passion. Now that magazine was going away and I think its disappearance places even more importance on this book as the last real American print publication standing that focuses on the Audi enthusiast experience and lifestyle.
That week I received a call from an Audi Club leadership veteran. “Do we really need a print magazine?” he asked. It was odd. I came from digital and here I was making the case for print.
In New York, my friend from Audi helped spell out the weaknesses of the book. Seeking further context, I turned to another friend – Bryan Joslin, publisher of the niche print magazine Alloy & Grit for Land Rover enthusiasts. Alloy is a benchmark on what can be done right in the niche print magazine business while also on a budget. We learned from Alloy markedly as we began to reimagine quattro quarterly.
Over the last year, the national team, the book’s contributors, and myself have been giving it a lot of thought. Here’s what we decided. We’re starting over. We’ve got a new printer with a new format, new binding, new page weight, and we’ve added ten more pages.
What was once quattro quarterly will now be known simply as quattro. Why? Why limit it? “Quarterly” suggests we only print this book four times a year. That may apply for now but it is limiting in the long run. If we want to run, faster, stronger, and better then we don’t want those sorts of limits.
We’re dropping the seasonal nomenclature. While it may be snowing in the forests of Acadia, the tarmac is hot and sticky on Angeles Crest or in Sebring. From now on, we’ll go Q1, Q2, Q3, Q4… which leaves us open to deviate here or there.
As we explored what the magazine means to the club, it seemed clear that the purpose shifts to a premium platform of entertainment for members. It also needs to be an engaging conduit for those experiencing Audi Club for the first time when the magazine is picked up at the local dealership or the like.
Things like Chapter News and words from the club leadership need to remain, but other in-depth information will shift to the web platform. Time-sensitive news will do the same. We’re here to tell stories and inform in ways that keep all engaged, whether they are longtime Audi enthusiast members or casual Audi drivers picking up a copy.
We’re not done experimenting and improving… not by a longshot. Even still, I think we’re off to a strong start. If this magazine is a dinosaur, then it’s the kind that survives the extinction event when larger and less agile publishers can not.
So, I’ll ask you what I asked my Audi friend in New York. “Be honest. What do you see, and what don’t you see?”
Drop us a line. Let us know your thoughts.