Here’s yet another sad story for people who read in Hawaii. Mana Magazine, a magazine dedicated to all things Hawaiian culture that’s only about three years old, is closing, its parent company Pacific Basin Communications said last night.
“As is the case with most publications, our ability to sustain MANA is done so by the support of our community through subscription dollars, advertising dollars and sponsorship dollars,” says this statement on the closing, posted online at the Mana Magazine website. “Sadly, after more than 3 years, the amount of support that we needed to keep MANA afloat did not emerge. For this reason, we have made the difficult decision that our next issue of MANA, June/July, will be our last, and we will be in touch with our subscribers soon.”
I wish I could say this surprised me. Mana, though a wonderful, colorful magazine filled with fascinating stories about a variety of issues involving Hawaii and Hawaiians, was originally a print magazine. But late last year, they scrapped their print publication and went digital-only.* Though the Mana website still offered numerous stories for free (and a few ads here and there), subscribers could see the actual magazine itself using a digital viewer. At the time, a spokesman for Mana told me that going digital-only was a positive development for the magazine.
“In fact, some of the cost savings from the printing of MANA may be allocated into creating more rich content for our readers,” magazine spokesman Cedric Duarte emailed me back in August 2014. “As with any media outlet, financial considerations come into play for any making any business decision. Subscriptions have grown at a steady pace and we’ve have [sic] tremendous sell though at various newsstands throughout the state.”
Editor Christine Hitt–who’s only worked for Mana for a couple months–declined comment on the closing, saying only that a “business decision” led to the end of the magazine (the June/July issue, Mana‘s last, was also Hitt’s first issue as editor). She referred me to the official statement cited above and to Pacific Basin Communications President Scott Schumaker.
did not return a phone call asking for comment by press time explained that Mana simply couldn’t raise enough money–either through subscriptions or advertising–to continue publishing. Their strategy of producing a native digital publication, website and newsletters, then publicizing and expanding it all through social media, simply couldn’t lead to increased revenue.
“The move to digital-only was a heartfelt attempt to have Mana reach a larger audience,” Schumaker told me by phone. “We wanted to show the importance of our indigenous culture to everyone, and make it accessible to all. But now the financials no longer support digital. There just were not enough people willing to pay to subscribe or buy ads. We were very successful in the product we created, from both our minimal staff and the freelancers who supported us along the way.”
Schumaker said Mana’s digital issues will remain for sale in smartphone newsstands. Pacific Basin Communications also owns a variety of other publications in Hawaii, including Hawaii Business, Hawaii Magazine, Hawaii Buyer’s Guide, Hawaii Home + Remodeling and Honolulu Magazine.
* The story originally mis-characterized the move to digital.
Photo courtesy Mana Magazine