OUTDOOR GEAR AND APPAREL MERCHANT Patagonia has replaced its fly fishing print catalog with an online e-catalog. The interactive fly fishing e-catalog launched the last week of March.

What prompted Patagonia to take the fly fishing title online-only? “We aren’t really looking at it as a change,” says Christina Speed, Patagonia’s marketing director. “With everything going on with mobile/tablet/social media, we see an opportunity, so we’re starting small and listening to our customers.”

It’s also not the first print catalog Patagonia has moved online. The company’s Surf spin-off, launched in April 2006, went Web-only this past fall. When Patagonia first sent the Surf e-catalog to its core customers, “we got a lot of great and useful feedback,” Speed says.

Patagonia produced about 14 different mail order catalogs for fiscal 2010. Because its philosophy is entrenched in environmental conservation, the savings in printing/postage aren’t the driving force behind the switch to e-catalogs, Speed says. “The natural resource savings is also very important to us. This format is a compelling and engaging way to continue to strengthen our relationship with our customers and to reach new ones.”

Is this something that Patagonia will pursue with any of its other books? “What we learn will inform our future direction,” Speed says.

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