September 2, 2011 in Business

Farmers’ Almanac adds modern components

Forecaster available now on Facebook, Twitter
David Sharp Associated Press
 

LEWISTON, Maine – The Farmers’ Almanac has a hole punched in the corner, made for hanging it on a hook in the outhouse “library” in the olden days. These days, though, there are some higher-tech options, including social networks, cell phones and e-readers.

Known for forecasts that use an old-fashioned formula, the almanac now has a mobile website for smart phones and nearly 6,000 followers on Twitter. More than 30,000 people “like” the publication’s Facebook page. By year’s end there’ll be software applications for Kindle, Nook and iPad.

The latest version of the annually updated almanac, released this week, is predicting stormier-than-usual weather this winter from the Middle Atlantic to New England. Its reclusive weather prognosticator, who works under the pseudonym Caleb Weatherbee, sums it up as a winter of “Clime and Punishment.”

“This one is definitely wet, and definitely stormy,” said Editor Peter Geiger. “Depending upon where you are, it’s going to be either snow or rain.”

Elsewhere, the weather formula dating to the 1800s suggests it’ll be colder than usual in the Upper Midwest and wetter than usual in the Pacific Northwest.

Geiger said people shouldn’t be surprised that the almanac’s website gets 21 million page views each year, has 32,000 fans on Facebook and a large Twitter following.

But the print version isn’t going away. The almanac has a circulation of 4 million, including retail editions and promotional versions given away by businesses.

The forecast, along with recipes, brainteasers, trivia and tips for resourceful living, comprise a formula that’s largely unchanged from the first publication in 1818.

Editors of the Farmers’ Almanac said a theme of self-reliance and simplicity espoused by the almanac is resonating with younger readers because of the sour economy.

“Nowadays people want to get back to the basics again. They want to live a more affordable, smart kind of life,” said Sandi Duncan, the publication’s managing editor. “Let’s face it – the economy has forced people to get back to the basics, to live within their means.”

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