Thursday, August 9, 2012
A few Zick covers of the 22 I've painted for Bird Watcher's Digest.
Some newer readers may not know that, but for a certain bird magazine, I might not be writing books and articles, might not have had a nice five-year-stint as an NPR commentator; might not even be blogging here. I've been writing, painting and drawing for practically every issue of Bird Watcher's Digest for a couple of decades now. I'm not on the staff, but I'm on the masthead as Contributing Editor. I write a column in each edition, and read galleys of every issue for scientific accuracy. I look forward to each set of galleys, because I always learn something new. I feel at home with BWD and its readers. I know that BWD subscribers are my core audience; they're the people who give gift subscriptions to friends, who give my books to their moms, who come to the festivals where Bill and I are working.
I've been musing about my long association with Bird Watcher's Digest recently. These are hard times for magazines everywhere, and the economic recovery we've all been waiting for simply hasn't materialized in time to offset the enormous costs of producing a print magazine.
You won't find bird gardening, feeding, a bird behavior column or backyard habitat enhancement advice combined in any other publication but Bird Watcher's Digest. No other magazine has featured an original painting on more than 200 covers since 1978. I'm proud to have been associated with the magazine since my first article appeared in 1986, proud to have painted 22 covers and written 60 or more articles for it. Truly, I've lost count. I'm incredibly proud of my husband, Bill Thompson III, who's editor and co-publisher. There's no one who works harder at what he does, which is producing the best magazine of its kind. He also writes books, subsidiary publications, and field guides which help subsidize the cost of keeping the magazine in print. I'm proud of his whole family: Bill's brother Andy, sister Laura, and mother Elsa, all of whom pull together to put the magazine out issue after issue. The BWD staff is dedicated and incredible, and I'm lucky to be able to work with them.
If you call the magazine's offices, you'll most likely hear Elsa pick up. She started the whole thing in their Marietta living room in 1978 with Bill's dad, Bill Thompson Jr., and she's still there every day, solving subscriber conundrums and offering a gracious and warm persona for this wonderful publication. Subscribers say again and again that they feel like part of a family. Well, they are. Bird Watcher's Digest is one of the very last family-owned and operated magazines remaining in the United States. The Thompson family has been slugging it out against skyrocketing printing, paper and postage costs since 1978—34 years of putting out the finest content, photography, advice and full-on good literature about birds that you can find anywhere.
The bottom line is right here: Bird Watcher's Digest is going to have to find more subscribers to help pay for the cost of putting this magazine out.
Bird Watcher's Digest is having a subscription drive. Only $19.95 for a year's worth of good writing, good backyard tips, ideas for birding excursions, fascinating insight into bird behavior, and clever humor from writers like Alvaro Jaramillo, David Bird and Al Batt. With your paid print subscription, you get free access to BWD's stunning digital edition, which is the entire magazine plus video and audio bonuses we can only do on the Web. (Several of our columnists, including me, read our work so you can listen to it online in the digital edition). If you lean that way, you can also subscribe to the digital edition alone for only $9.99 per year. Print subscribers also get access to the BWD App for reading on the iPad, Kindle Fire, and other such digital devices.
I don't know about you, but I can spend $20 without even thinking about it. I can hand a $20 bill to Phoebe and forget I even did it. Such a modest expenditure can bring you so much over the next year. If you enjoy the kind of writing and information you find on this blog, won't you try the Thompson family's magazine?
Please click here to order your subscription. Thank you.