Interesting times ahead for Cadalyst

As many of you may know, I’ve been writing for Cadalyst since 1995. Yesterday, I read in David Cohn’s summary of the history of Cadalyst that in 1991, Lionel Johnston sold CADalyst to Aster Publishing for $2.2 million.

How times have changed! Today, current owner Questex doesn’t think it’s worth keeping alive. I’ve been aware for some months of uncertainty about Cadalyst’s future, and Questex has finally decided that it doesn’t have one. Most of the staff have been laid off, with a tiny skeleton staff keeping things ticking over until the end of the month. As a Contributing Editor (i.e. writer), the financial effect on me is small, but others are less fortunate and have my sympathy.

There’s still hope, though. This is the official word from Editor-in-Chief Nancy Spurling Johnson:

Questex Media Group has decided to divest itself of Cadalyst, effective the end of February. A few of us are working actively on an employee buyout. We believe in Cadalyst and the CAD market and are positive about the future. There’s a lot to work out in the near term, but we are very, very optimistic that we can make this happen and not only keep Cadalyst moving forward, but make it a more valuable resource than ever for our readers and advertisers.

As Questex seems to think the Cadalyst name isn’t worth anything, with a bit of luck the employees won’t have to dig too deep to buy it out, and a long tradition will continue. With the unfortunate demise of AUGI World and uncertainty about any replacement, there’s a hole in the market right now. Sure, it’s a depressed market, but it still has a hole in it and even in a depressed state that market is surely much bigger now than it was in the “good old days” when the magazine was much thicker and the reviews were more critical.

If Nancy can pull off the buyout and Cadalyst continues without a publisher-owner, it’s possible that the result will be a better Cadalyst. It’s almost like a return to its roots; a small core of enthusiastic staff building up a publication. As a long-term reader, I’d be happy to see Cadalyst go back to the future.

The world has changed, of course, and I know I read Cadalyst almost exclusively on-line these days. Cadalyst could continue without printing a thing, either in the short term or permanently. Is there a future for a printed CAD magazine? I hope so. Despite the shift of readers to the on-line world, I still see newsagents full of magazines covering all sorts of topics, many of them more obscure than CAD. There are millions of us. Surely we deserve our own magazine?

6 comments to Interesting times ahead for Cadalyst

  • While I obviously read things online, I would miss having a hardcopy magazine. We might be in the midst of a shift where there are no CAD Magazines, only online content, it’s impossible to know for sure… but, I sure hope not.

    All the best to Nancy et al. ~fist pump~ They can do it!

  • I’d like to think there is still a place for a CAD magazien but then it’s years since I purchased one. Perhaps that is more telling…

  • I think one of the stumbling blocks could be that people are so used to getting this type of information for free, they won’t want to pay for a subscription. But, printing and shipping costs have risen while advertising revenue could be dropping due to the advertisers’ belt-tightening or closing shop.

    Maybe the answer is that these magazines would have to bite the bullet and try to charge for subscriptions to compensate? Although a move like that may drive off many folks…

  • Lionel Johnston sold CADalyst to Aster Publishing for $6 million, not $2.2 million.

  • You and David should have a discussion about this. With little cartoon heads.

  • I wouldn’t pay for the subscription because all I need to know is free online. I think that Cadalyst could do well as an online only magazine. I think it was PC World that made the switch a few months back. With online content become so prevalent and easily gotten, print is fading away. My RSS Reader has so many feeds that I can’t even imagine anymore. If a site doesn’t have an RSS feed, then well, I don’t need what it has to offer! Cadalyst has been going down hill for a long time. There are still nuggets of greatness in it (Like your articles Steve!) but it has become less about the user and more about the cooperate sponsors. On the other hand, the sponsors are what pay the bills for a magazine so I understand. I don’t want Cadalyst to go away, there is too much tradition and value in it. I still haven’t recovered from Cadence leaving! In the long run, I think that if Nancy and her crew can pull this off, that Cadalyst will be a much better resource for CAD Users world wide. Like you said Steve, Cadalyst could be returning to its roots, and that is a good thing.

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