Tag Archives: magazine

Short interviews with small magazine publishers

Magazine publishing is a dark art. But the world of niche publishing—people who create magazines for necrophiliacs or donkey hobbyists, or for those of us who like to ride really small trains—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. “We 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.” Henshaw admits that “quite a few” of those 400 are private. In August, The Telegraph wrote a feature on the “irresistible” 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 train’s engine.

“There are many miniature railway enthusiasts in Australia, Canada, the U.S., and Germany, and a few in India too,” Henshaw says. “Most other nationalities find the whole subject perplexing.”

Miniature Railway’s ads are what you might expect: miniature railway destination spots, model train expos, and a locomotive plates maker in Droitwich (“NOT the cheapest, PERHAPS the most expensive, PROBABLY the best.”) The articles are also what you might expect—fascinating to the miniature railway enthusiast, slightly Greek to the rest of us. In the magazine’s pictures, Caledonian blue–polished trains snake through tall-treed woods and people convivially gather near cobbled tracks.

I wouldn’t imagine the cozy ethos of this digest-sized publication would translate well into digital modes, and David Henshaw more or less agrees. “I suspect that most small publications will go digital within a few years, but Miniature Railway is one of the few that will not.” One of the merchandise items featured on the back cover includes a heavy-duty binder with gold embossed letters intended to hold print copies. “Our readership is older, more traditionally minded.” Henshaw does express concern that soon there will not be enough printers around to print at a reasonable price—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. “These are interesting days!”

Paul Wells on what went wrong at Newsweek

What went wrong at NewsweekWe grew up with very little money and with that little bit of money, our family had a couple of indulgences.  We not only had basic cable but had TSN (to watch the World Junior Hockey Championships), we always had a copy of the Star Phoenix delivered every morning to our door and we had a subscription to Newsweek.  I probably stopped reading Newsweek in 1993 when I moved out but I still find myself flipping through it once in a while but never buying it, it just isn’t that good anymore.

What happened?  Well Paul Wells has the story (which is more than Newsweek has had in it lately)

Certainly, if anyone asked me what happened last week in America or the world, one piece of advice I’d offer is, “For the love of God, don’t look in Newsweek for the answer.” As a kind of bonus, the layout of Newsweek is so awesomely twee and precious, with acres of white space and elegant little button-down twill fonts for the tiny perfect Niles Crane headlines, that if you try to read the thing on paper your eyeballs will physically eject themselves from your cranium and run hiding under the nearest sofa for protection.

It’s not clear who all of this is supposed to impress, but what it’s kind of obviously not supposed to do is tell you what’s going on.

But then, that’s the sophisticated take on weekly newsmagazines, after all, and has been for decades: times are changing, the news business is changing, the internet changed everything, 24-hour news changed everything, readers are busy and sophisticated and they’re a fragmented, frazzled bunch who already know what’s happening within an hour after it happened, and it’s a waste of anyone’s time to actually bring them the news. So the two big American newsweeklies have been circling back on themselves in an enormous super-sophisticated post-post-modern what-does-it-all-mean ball of meta, with Newsweek leaping ahead ofTime in its crisis of faith because Newsweek is smaller than Time, more scared, and because it’s fallen into the hands of a fusty 40-year-old Pulitzer-winning historian, Jon Meacham, who (uh-oh) has decided he’s on a Mission.

The Huffington Post (yeah, I just linked to the Huffington Post… luckily no sharks were involved in that jump) has their take on what went wrong.