Final American Angler Cover: Which Would You Have Chosen?

The publishing world is weird. It’s interesting, for sure, but a bit more challenging than any of us would like. Over the years, I have worked for four titles that have perished and I’ve watched many other great mainstream titles die (even Anthony Bourdain’s magazine, Lucky Peach, died after just a couple years of existence).

As many of you know, I was at the helm of American Angler when Morris Publications announced it would kill the print edition earlier this year. There was talk about keeping a digital presence alive and building, but that idea died in July.

I wanted to make a big statement with the final cover of AA and thought we had itnailed, but in the end we went with a cover that was more general than collectable. The decision wasn’t hastily made—we went round and round  on which might be the best option. I was firmly entrenched in the black and white doomsday trench. I thought it would impress an audience to be straightforward, chin held high, and say, We’re sorry, but we are done. I’m not sure why others were hesitant to do so, but I know they wanted to focus on what was in the issue. Perhaps the mag was on the open market and they didn’t want to confuse people if the title reemerged with only a short delay in publishing.

The final cover of American Angler, July 2020.

In the end that didn’t happen and the mag went out the door and into readers’ hands just like it had before. No warning of what was to come. The digital presence ended shortly after, including the new newsletter I put together called, Bent To The Cork. Strangely, right after I’d produced the first few issues of Bent, which I was calling it for short, MeatEater came out with podcast called . . . you got it, Bent.

I thought you might find it interesting to see what the the final American Angler cover options were, and to hear which decision any of you may have made and why. So that’s my question: would you have gone with straight-forward black-and-white version or the full color version offering no indication of what was to come. See both options below.

Hope you enjoyed a little view into the publishing world.

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