If you're into collectibles, you may want to keep the September issue of the AKC Gazette when it arrives in your mailbox. After nearly 123 years of continuous publication in its ink-on-paper format, the September issue will be the last.
Beginning with the October issue, the Gazette will become an eviscerated PDF document posted monthly to the AKC website.
That information was buried on page 91 of the June issue in a section called the "secretary's page." The item offered the standard "cost effectiveness" rationale for the change. It didn't address the question of how many of us will get stiff necks or go blind trying to read it.
In fact, the item raised more questions than it answered. It assured us that the "new incarnation" will continue to carry the chairman's and president's letters (Oh, thank God!), AKC updates and the breed columns.
Left unaddressed was the fate of the "meat" of the traditional magazine's content: the features, the departments and the other columns. So I called the AKC and learned the bad news.
Gone are the indepth articles about breeds newly recognized by the AKC.
Gone are the behavior and training articles.
Gone are the better-breeding articles.
Gone are the winners of the fiction and photography contests . . . and, I assume, the contests themselves.
Gone are the canine health features.
Gone are the articles about the excitement surrounding the agility, conformation and obedience national championships.
Gone are the judging articles.
I asked about the comprehensive events section that has been available (at extra cost) in every second issue of the magazine. I've found that section particularly helpful because it's always at my fingertips. When the magazine comes, I can settle into an easy chair and plan our show schedule. But that, too, will bite the dust. Of course, it's always been available online, but that's not the same.
The features and columns and stories mentioned above -- as well as other monthly content of interest and substance and importance -- all got the ax. But note that the letters of the president and chairman did not. What a fascinating glimpse into the corporate culture of the AKC this offers. What we see being manifested here are self-importance and organizational politics. And when this scheme came before the AKC board, it was rubber-stamped with nary a dissenting vote.
The new digital Gazette -- what's left of it -- will be available to everyone, free of charge.
Come October, those who have unexpired paid Gazette subscriptions will have the option of receiving a pro rata refund or a corresponding number of issues of Family Dog, the AKC's magazine aimed primarily at pet homes. I'm told a letter to that effect will go out to subscribers later this month.
On a happier note, the Show Awards, a publication that has irritatingly been mailed to subscribers as a CD for several years, will, beginning in January 2012, be available on the AKC website. For free, I assume.
The American Kennel Club does an excellent job in so many ways. Just not this time.