Sunday, June 4, 2017

R.I.P. Blue & Gray

In my estimation, Blue & Gray for most of its run and early North & South sit together at the pinnacle of popular Civil War magazines. While N&S had fallen to such depths for so long that I was indifferent to its ultimate demise, I truly regretted Dave Roth's May 31 announcement that B&G was shutting down the presses.

I was moving seemingly every year or two in the 1990s (changing your mailing address with magazines was a nightmare in the pre-internet age), so I picked up all the issues at bookstores that decade and have been a faithful subscriber since the beginning of the millennium. I think the magazine really came into its own when the decision was made to concentrate each issue on a feature historical article and General's Tour (when that exactly came to be, I don't recall). Happily, the quality of both also steadily increased over time. The maps in each issue were often better than anything found in published books and were often worth the cover price alone.

In his post, Roth cites declining subscriber base numbers post-Sesquicentennial as one of the driving forces behind the decision to close shop, but I can't have been the only person to notice that the magazine itself was regularly slipping up on its own obligations. For some time, I suspected that we weren't getting the promised six issues per year. Going back only two years, I found that I received five issues during calendar year 2015 and only four in 2016. It became instantly apparent that no catch up was in the offing, and this year was projecting out even worse, so the end did not shock me. But enough of that. This moment should be more celebration than post-mortem.

Really, we shouldn't feel sorry for the Roths. They got to experience, for more than three decades (and make a living out of it), the kind of Civil War dream that many of us might only fantasize about. That is a remarkable run. They, along with Robin, created an utterly unique niche-within-a-niche print magazine that will undoubtedly never be replicated. Hopefully, Dave and Jason won't feel bitter. One would think that, over time, feelings of pride over their legacy will surely replace the sadness. For me, as one of those 'who still hears the guns,' I will hold onto my B&G issues forever.

8 comments:

  1. Amen. Blue & Gray was the best. I will always cherish my complete collection.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hopefully we will be able to get the complete collection digitally. Just purchased the complete N&S for $25. A bargain.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wouldn't count on that happening. People still tend to underestimate the costs and man-hours that go into digital publishing. Given what's transpired, I seriously doubt B&G would be in a position to take on a project like that, let alone recoup the investment.

      Yes, the whole run of N&S for $25 is a bargain!

      Delete
    2. No, I don't see that happening either. Dave says he is getting out of it because the interest has waned and costs are unmanageable. But I guess we'll see.

      Delete
  3. I am traveling and so not online much, and just caught the news. This saddens me tremendously.

    Th ROTHS are wonderful folks who doubled as trailblazers. Even if you never subscribed, you benefited. They helped presses with book reviews, provided a platform for authors--established and otherwise--to publish their work, and helped keep this movement of CW-related publishing and interest alive. We all owe them a tremendous debt of gratitude.

    And for all that, I tip my hat and offer a heartfelt thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  4. John FoskettJune 05, 2017

    This is truly unfortunate. The Roths were great to deal with and turned out a top quality publication. And so on it goes - a society which is more and more addicted to instant gratification, opinion masquerading as fact, mindless entertainment, and lack of interest in anything other than the here and now, euthanizes another worthwhile endeavor. Best to Dave, Jason, et al.

    ReplyDelete
  5. AnonymousJune 05, 2017

    Very sad to see this. I was never a subscriber because I preferred to buy issues focusing on battles I wanted to study. Years ago as my interest widened, I backordered a number and am very fortunate to have them as I travel into unexplored territory. My thanks to the Roths.

    John Sinclair

    ReplyDelete
  6. Chris EvansJune 27, 2017

    Sad to hear about one of my favorites. I cherish the back issues I have especially from the 80s.

    The issues I have on Franklin are classic.

    Chris Evans

    ReplyDelete

Blogger ID not required, but if you choose not to create one please sign your post with your name (no promotional information, please). Otherwise, your comment and/or link may be deleted.