Scuba magazines and ads in the U.S.?

I’ve recently decided to get back into diving after a long hiatus. Naturally, I thought I’d pick up some diving magazines to check out the ads, and to see what equipment is going for nowadays at discount dive shops. There are a few different magazines out there, but most of them seem to be regional (Northwest Dive News or the Canadian publication Diver, for example). I found only two national magazines at the local newsstand (which is actually a very good place): Rodale’s Scuba Diving, and PADI’s Sport Diver.

Guess, what? No discount dive shop ads! There are manufacturers’ ads for various bits of equipment, dive school ads, and ads for diving holidays. But none of the big “one stop discount shopping” ads I remember from the mid-1980s.

I understand why PADI would not have such ads in their publication. They want people to go to their local dive shops (which are often – or even usually – PADI affiliates). Buying from your local shop keeps the shop in business, and that’s good for PADI.

But why would Scuba Diving not have the big ads in the back? Has something changed over the years that makes the discount shops not want to advertise in magazines? Ad rates too high? Liability concerns? Are they being frozen out of the market by organizations such as PADI? Let me expand…

Ad rates too high? I know that it’s very cheap to advertize over the Internet, and that multi-page ads are more expensive. But surely the rates can’t be so high that a discount shop is unable to afford a 2-inch ad with a link to their site?

Liability concerns? A dive shop can refuse to sell life-support equipment to an untrained person, while a mail-order operation would not really have a means to verify the person’s training. I can see that there might be a concern that a discount centre may sell equipment to an untrained person, and that that person might get dead because of his own incompetence. But would that get rid of all of the big discount ads?

Are they being frozen out of the market by organizations such as PADI? Maybe PADI, NAUI and the other training organizations are refusing to allow certification training at shops that sell at a discount though magazine ads? On the one hand, I can see a shop wanting to offer certification to its own customers so that they will come back and buy stuff. On the other hand, it might be more lucrative just to supply equipment (perhaps through an affilliate). I know that Aqua Lung will not offer warranties on any equipment sold through a non-authorized dealer, and that “If you purchase Aqua Lung life support products by mail, telephone order or electronically, you are purchasing from a non-authorized dealer.”

Out of my three guesses, it sounds like protectionism is the most likely reason that the big ads have disappeared.

So Question #1: Does anyone know (as a fact; not just the guessing I’ve just done) why the big discount ads have disappeared?

Skin Diver Magazine ceased publication in 2002. As I said, there seems to be a dearth of national diving magazines out there; at least, from what I’ve seen locally.

Question #2: Aside from Scuba Diving, and Sport Diver, are there any national (as opposed to regional) dive magazines in the U.S.?

I don’t know how to answer your questions regarding advertising, except to say that protectionism certainly is a factor, and the dive industry as a whole has a tendency to screw you over and charge you for the lube.

One possible explanation is the proliferation of the internet, what with the mail order and web order shops offering dive gear at a fraction of the cost, and many discussions on various internet forums debating the pros and cons of such equipment sources - one has to wonder if advertising via printed media is even a large factor in developing market share as compared to favourable discussions on internet forums, and of course word of mouth by divers.

Having said that, you need to ask yourself what is important - i.e. do you have access to the information you need to make educated decisions regarding equipment purchases. IMO, most of the national scuba diving publications are rags with very little real informative value, with a few notable exceptions (GUE’s DIR/Quest, UHMS publications, etc.) Skin Diver came with my D.A.N. insurance - and went straight to the wastebasket without a second thought. You will probably be better served by participating in an online community, because then you have access to perspectives other than that of the advertiser or magazine, and actual discussion as opposed to simple proposition.

Where are you located? What equipment are you looking for? What sort of diving are you doing?

I may be able to point you in the right direction with a little more info.

For unbiased reviews of dive spots and equipment, I’ve found Undercurrent useful. They don’t accept advertising and have an on-line subscription (with access to past articles) for around $10, plus $3 a month thereafter.
The web site is www.

No worries about equipment. I can find what I need easily enough on the 'net or at the shop. But just for information: I live in northern Washington, just south of the Canadian border. Diving will be in the Strait of Georgia. (Yes, I’ll be wearing a drysuit!) My diving will be for sightseeing, mostly. I’ll also do some underwater photography. I finally acquired a Bolex housing, and I want to shoot some 16mm footage too. And I might want to shoot some video. When I was a kid I wanted to be an oceanographer. Getting back into diving will be a good way of studying the local ocean and its biota. And it might also be a good way of grabbing a snack. [Jacques Cousteau]“We haf found a Cancer magister. I sink we shall eat it.”

True, but they’re entertaining. (It reminds me of the motorcycle mags that praise a bike one year, and then trash it a couple of years later.)

tullius: Actually, I like the ads. It’s fun to see what’s new. Looks like an interesting site though. I read the article about the cessation of shark feeding. Now that the sharks have become accustomed to associating humans with food, I wonder if they’ll start checking out the resort?

So are there any other national dive magazines?