Magazine publishing is a dark art. But the world of niche publishingâ€”people who create magazines for necrophiliacs or donkey hobbyists, or for those of us who like to ride really small trainsâ€”features its own requirements.
Miniature Railway is hardly nostalgic. Henshaw is in the midst of creating a comprehensive map of all the miniature railways in the United Kingdom. â€œWe estimate there are 1000 in total, but many are private, known only to a small group of friends. I have agreed to only show 400.â€ Henshaw admits that â€œquite a fewâ€ of those 400 are private. In August, The Telegraph wrote a feature on the â€œirresistibleâ€ romantic allure of a garden steam train. Apparently a popular activity among enthusiasts is cooking bacon and eggs in a shovel over the burning coals of a miniature trainâ€™s engine.
â€œThere are many miniature railway enthusiasts in Australia, Canada, the U.S., and Germany, and a few in India too,â€ Henshaw says. â€œMost other nationalities find the whole subject perplexing.â€
Miniature Railwayâ€™s ads are what you might expect: miniature railway destination spots, model train expos, and a locomotive plates maker in Droitwich (â€œNOT the cheapest, PERHAPS the most expensive, PROBABLY the best.â€) The articles are also what you might expectâ€”fascinating to the miniature railway enthusiast, slightly Greek to the rest of us. In the magazineâ€™s pictures, Caledonian blueâ€“polished trains snake through tall-treed woods and people convivially gather near cobbled tracks.
I wouldnâ€™t imagine the cozy ethos of this digest-sized publication would translate well into digital modes, and David Henshaw more or less agrees. â€œI suspect that most small publications will go digital within a few years, but Miniature Railway is one of the few that will not.â€ One of the merchandise items featured on the back cover includes a heavy-duty binder with gold embossed letters intended to hold print copies. â€œOur readership is older, more traditionally minded.â€ Henshaw does express concern that soon there will not be enough printers around to print at a reasonable priceâ€”the print run per issue, which comes out tri-annually, is 800 and costs $1,800 (yearly subscriptions are $12 a year domestically).
Henshaw calls the economics of paper dubious. â€œThese are interesting days!â€