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.?