Magazines are a great way to stay on top of any hobby, especially cigar smoking! With so many new blends hitting the shelves every month, it’s only natural that you’ll want to stay on top of these tasty treats. Looking in from the outside, you would never believe what an evolving hobby this really is. I oftentimes compare cigars to wine, there are always new things to try, and new flavors when it comes to various blends. Cigars certainly are not a static hobby, at least not since I’ve been enjoying them.
When Cigar Aficionado was initially launched in ’94, it was an invaluable resource to most any cigar smoker. The internet was still in its infancy, and magazine sales were at an all time high. The only way to stay current with any hobby or leisure was to subscribe to a magazine dedicated to that particular interest. When I first started smoking cigars, I immediately scoured the shelves for a cigar related magazine, and I immediately found Cigar Aficionado. Standing at the local cigar shop a midst the heavy and thick smoky air, I began thumbing through one of the ’98 editions, and was amazed by the vast amount of info I had in my hands. I immediately purchased the magazine, and very soon after signed up for an on-going subscription!
During the 90’s and early 2000’s, I couldn’t wait for my next edition to arrive. I remember salivating over many of the new blends I would read about, or how intrigued I was to learn about what manufactures and master blenders had up their sleeve. Not to mention learning about all of the fresh cigar reviews every magazine featured. I would read it cover to cover, including all the ads! Of course not every article interested me, but I’d say the vast majority of information was well worth the money.
As time went on, I began seeing the magazine shrink in size. In the early 2000’s, they changed their logo from CIGAR aficionado to cigar AFICIONADO – notice the change in focus on the word “cigar”. I immediately thought this was odd, and began speculating that the focus is about to change to something more generic. Then a few months later, they changed their slogan to “The Good Life Magazine for Men”. This is where things began to take a sudden change, at least for me. Just as I suspected, CA began taking emphasis off of cigars, and more onto expensive hobbies and products. As time went on, I saw less and less articles focusing around cigars, and more around the next best Rolex, or how great this $5000 bottle of Whiskey is, or life on a $2M yacht, or the next best golf clubs… you get the picture… Unfortunately, the emphasis has dramatically changed from cigars to more of a “good life magazine for men”. If I really wanted to read about this stuff, then I would subscribe to “Millionaire Magazine” or “Golf Digest”.
Aside from less emphasis on cigars, more and more ads began to pop up as well… and I’m not referring to cigar ads either. Ads for expensive watches, liquor, cars, golf clubs, etc. As time went on, I found myself being less and less interested in Cigar Aficionado. Simply because the emphasis is no longer solely on cigars; it’s on a variety of topics that are more generally focused on expensive items that quite frankly don’t interest me.
Why the sudden change to featuring other types of luxury items? I believe that the ad revenue and possibly readership was shrinking, and by shifting focus onto other luxury items such as Ferrari, big name Golf brands, etc (all who have much deeper pockets than a standard cigar company) probably allowed for CA to increase their revenue and membership. Now they can accept ads from far more industries, thus making more money overall.
With the vast amount of cigar related resources online today (forums, blogs, review sites, etc), I oftentimes question if I should continue my subscription to CA. It’s this time of year that I renew, and I’m just not seeing much value anymore. Except for the fact that I have every single magazine since ’98, so I’d like to continue the series. Don’t get me wrong, there are still some excellent articles in there along with some great resources. It’s just not something that I find invaluable anymore, with what the internet has to offer these days.
So if you’re considering buying a subscription, I’d say head down to your local cigar shop and thumb threw it there. You might actually find it to be of interest. I just find myself questioning my subscription every now and then, due to the limited about of cigar related information the magazine now offers. Overall, CA is still an entertaining magazine to read, just less and less about cigars…
You can learn more about Cigar Aficionado from their website: http://www.cigaraficionado.com/