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Rob F

Are we still in love with print?

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2 hours ago, MarshLane said:

I would disagree with Phil’s earlier comment that rmWeb Gold is at the forefront of (digital?) magazine evolution

 

Music and television have evolved to a subscription and streaming based world, why not magazines?

 

Imagine that we ditched the single issue every month/4 weeks and instead, subscribers just have access to an enormous repository of articles which is added to every 2-3 days.

 

Freed of the constraints of paper, an article might be very traditional, a video, podcast, 3D print file or access to a live event feed. It wouldn't matter and you'd no longer consume the content in the same way if you didn't want to.

 

The trouble is, quality content costs money. Even if you don't pay people, they still need equipment to create it. Serious vloggers have serious kit and someone has to buy that. Maybe you argue that the vlogger buys it because it's their hobby and the return is the ego boost of lots of views, but that simply excludes those who don't have deep pockets whereas the hobby magazine world offers the easiest route to paid publication for anyone.

 

At the moment, the BRM digital issue comes with extras. Andy and I always take too many photos when we shoot a layout. All go to the editor and designer for use on the page, but the leftovers can be fitted into the digi version at minimal extra cost, just a bit of designer time. I'm working on a big build which could generate more steps that we can fit on the page. I'm doing the work, so in an electronic world the reader could have more content. Conversely, we could also run tiny pieces with 2-3 steps which don't fit the standard format.

 

Those who spot that we keep returning to subjects would find that there are many ways to do things and the search option would allow them to discover this. A good example is modelling grass - if you haven't read a mag in years you might not have spotted anything beyond scatter powders. New materials arrive, but the old ones aren't always obsolete so you might like the option to look at all of them. Also, as your tastes and interests chance, you will find old articles that once didn't appeal, now do. Maybe instead of just getting BRM, your sub could give access to all the railway titles (GR/EiM/Traction/NGW). Today you aren't interested in all of these enough to buy all the magazines, but if you could dip in as you wanted? Maybe there is demand for another title covering Monorails (for example) or even (gasp) foreign railways, that could go in the mix a lot more easily and cheaply than launching another magazine!

 

All of this has to be paid for. Adverts bring in ever smaller amounts of cash, and users boast about using ad-blockers which both removes the visual intrusion and any reason why an advertiser would support the publication/website. If we want to continue to evolve and improve then money has to come from somewhere.

 

Now there are plenty who would be delighted to see all model railway magazines close. Then magazine supported forums would disappear and discussion would fall back on Facebook - who make money from you in less palatable ways. Maybe people will still set up forums, but after a while the financial and time demands on the owner will see these fade away as they have in the past.

 

RMweb Gold is new and very few people are solving these problems or approaching the opportunities in the same way. We can't be sure it will work, but no-one is coming up with any better ideas. This is very much my opinion and not official, but any publisher has to look to the future, and not just the next 6 months.

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Yes, I still love print. Much prefer reading things on paper than a glaring screen.

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Posted (edited)

"Music and television have evolved to a subscription and streaming based world, why not magazines?"

 

When Phil asks this, does he mean that we, the consumers, have chosen this evolution, or does he mean that over time, the marketing and accounting departments of the fourth estate have seen opportunities for saving costs but selling us more through unwanted advertising and online 'content' that we have to pay for?

 

Cynnical as I may be but I think this may be a matter of perception here...

Edited by Harry Lime
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13 hours ago, kevinlms said:

I wonder what the monthly sales are of Railway Modeller these days?

 

From all the above, it must be much less than years ago.

Abc 31,196 in 2018. (CJL)

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8 minutes ago, dibber25 said:

Abc 31,196 in 2018. (CJL)

I have a Railway Modeller for 1960 February, where it states that the record sales for the January issue was 43,000 copies. So a long way short.

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10 hours ago, Phil Parker said:

 

Music and television have evolved to a subscription and streaming based world, why not magazines?

 

Imagine that we ditched the single issue every month/4 weeks and instead, subscribers just have access to an enormous repository of articles which is added to every 2-3 days.

 

Freed of the constraints of paper, an article might be very traditional, a video, podcast, 3D print file or access to a live event feed. It wouldn't matter and you'd no longer consume the content in the same way if you didn't want to.

 

The trouble is, quality content costs money. Even if you don't pay people, they still need equipment to create it. Serious vloggers have serious kit and someone has to buy that. Maybe you argue that the vlogger buys it because it's their hobby and the return is the ego boost of lots of views, but that simply excludes those who don't have deep pockets whereas the hobby magazine world offers the easiest route to paid publication for anyone.

 

All of this has to be paid for. Adverts bring in ever smaller amounts of cash, and users boast about using ad-blockers which both removes the visual intrusion and any reason why an advertiser would support the publication/website. If we want to continue to evolve and improve then money has to come from somewhere.

 

RMweb Gold is new and very few people are solving these problems or approaching the opportunities in the same way. We can't be sure it will work, but no-one is coming up with any better ideas. This is very much my opinion and not official, but any publisher has to look to the future, and not just the next 6 months.

 

Hi Phil,

I apologise if my disagreeing with you was taken as a criticism or negative feedback, it wasn't intended.  Obviously I have no insight into what you, Andy and those at Warners are working on. I did (and do) disagree that the product that I currently see, use and happily pay for, rmWeb Gold is at the forefront of digital evolution, but that is based on what I see and use, not what you may be planning! But equally, I see no reason why it couldn't be.

 

The problem with all of this, as you quite rightly say, is that digital brings many opportunities and queries, all of which costs money, which many people do not realise.   They think because its digital or online its free - it isn't, even without any staff involvement from you or Andy, this web forum costs money - the software, the servers to run it etc.. People tend to forget that.  I have read Railway Herald since the start which was around 2005, at the time it was hugely innovative and the only digital railway magazine around - it was amazing that they could cover a story that had happened that week - most printed magazines even on the publication date were two to three weeks behind.  But times change, the innovation is no longer there as everyone else has caught up.  There are other forums and websites, plus social media for people to consume news and information, but the problem with everything in the digital sphere is that there has to be trust in the source. I trust Railway Herald and Railway Magazine, as well as BRM and the model news pages here on rmWeb - that trust is down to one thing, that what I am reading is accurate.  I don't have that trust in social media, one of the reasons why I dont use it.

 

The web has developed, but as yet very few have been able to make money and even fewer (in my opinion) have got it right.  I like the idea that a rmWeb subscription could give access to all other Warners rail titles. Is that innovative? No, in my view is evolution, developing what you have. Innovation, is a key buzz word that is over used right now, like iconic!  Now if you were to look at your idea to change the content away from magazine bundles into evolving and creating content that is published every few days, that is innovative.  Is it the key to the future? Who knows?  Should it be tried - if it is achievable and sustainable, without a doubt, otherwise how do publishers and readers know whether it will work.  The problem is the same with everything digital, people have an attitude that they do not like paying.  I think times are changing, and more people are coming round to the idea, but I remember reading that one of the national papers - maybe the Times? lost 96% of its online readership when it introduced a paywall.  The difference with them was that the 4% that did pay, allowed the website to break even.

 

I believe that publishers have a right, and indeed a commitment to continue to try new things - some will work and some will not - but without that development and constant push to utilise technology in the best way possible, how do things change?  I support wholeheartedly what Phil and Andy do with rmWeb and I am proud to say I am a gold subscriber, something I fully intend to renew this year.  I want to see rmWeb continue to flourish as I believe that benefits all of us, from armchair modellers, to new entrants, to skill model makers, both as a portal to show off work, but also to enjoy our hobby.  Long may it continue.

 

Rich

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On a slight tangent to the thread title, one thing that's available is Model Railroader Video Plus. It is full of how-to videos, review videos and multi-video layout builds for $45USD p.a. One contributer, Cody Grivno, has built up a following on the channel. I was a subscriber for a while a few years ago, and it was pretty good. I have no idea how well it's working, if at all, but it's an interesting sideline and a seems to be a way of making money from all the videos they have created.

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If digital magazines vanished overnight it wouldn't bother me. If most paper ones vanished, that would be the same. The style and most of the content just does nothing for me. I prefer reading old back numbers from the 1950s through to the 1970s when writing styles and presentation were more to my taste.

 

My model railway interaction and news gathering is almost all through RMWeb and my magazine purchases are a subscription to MRJ and very occasional purchases of others if there is anything of interest to me in them. That is so rare as to mean maybe one every few years.

 

If anybody ever brings out a magazine like the one the late Bob Barlow started, that may change. 

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19 hours ago, Phil Parker said:

Now there are plenty who would be delighted to see all model railway magazines close.

 

I find that difficult to believe.

 

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Something like  40 years ago I used to subscribe to RM, Steam world, and various electronics magazines. that all came to a stop when they started going astray in the RAF and not arriving with me. So then it was just pick up what ever I could find in Smiths or Menzies (If there was one, not too many in the Hebridies)

 

Once I'd left the RAF, I subscribed to Practical Boat owner, later on MRJ and  RM.

 

I susbscribed to BRM digital for a year or two, but found it unreadable on a tablet, and unsatifactory on a 24inch screen, So I dropped that. I like to relax in an armchair not sit upright at a computer screen.

 

MRJ was dropped for the Finescale magazine that sadly was unable to run for long.

So I switched to getting MRJ at various Smiths, but it's getting harder to find, some Smiths don't carry it, others don't carry so many copies and since it's over a 40 mile round trip north, south or west to each of the three Smiths they are often gone before I get there. A MRJ Subscription is likely to reoccur shortly.

 

The local good paper shop was put out of business by a Supermarket opening almost next door and cherry picking the big sellers..

 

So what of the future?

Unless they bring out a tablet computer that can display a magazine in a readable fashion I shall stick to paper.

 

I'm likely to drop Practical Boat owner soon as It no longer suits my sailing, in fact no sailing magazine really suits my sailing anymore.

RM MRJ, both have aspects I like and for the moment will continue, once retirement occurs I shall have to reconsider expenses.

I miss being able to drop into a shop and pick up a magazine that has something that interests me.

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3 hours ago, t-b-g said:

My model railway interaction and news gathering is almost all through RMWeb. 

No BRM = no RMweb. Simple as that I'm afraid.

 

Just collected my saved copy from my local newsagents.  Had a nice chat in there; great to have human contact. Another reason I will keep buying my print edition.

 

Looks another great edition - keep up the good work.

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2 hours ago, TheQ said:

I susbscribed to BRM digital for a year or two, but found it unreadable on a tablet, and unsatifactory on a 24inch screen, So I dropped that. I like to relax in an armchair not sit upright at a computer screen.

 

 

So what of the future?

Unless they bring out a tablet computer that can display a magazine in a readable fashion I shall stick to paper.

 

Ok, a slightly rhetorical question, but the display on tablet computer is no different to a printed magazine - the layout is the same, it is possibly more interactive in that the pictures can be made bigger, so what do publishers actually need to do?  While asked tongue in cheek, I am seriously curious.

 

People say this a lot when the question of digital magazines comes up - I use an iPad Pro to read mine, and it works fine, no zooming necessary to read the text and its just the same as being sat on the sofa with a magazine folded back so I am reading just one page. So is it that you used a computer and believe tablets are the same?  Is it that you've used a small tablet and had to zoom in to read? Is it that the tablet is too heavy to hold to read for long?  I agree that using a digital, magazine content could be totally redesigned for a tablet, but that wouldn't necessarily work on a computer - equally there are so many tablets around, the software to display the 'new style' would be so involved, the cost of development would be significantly high.  

 

So what is it that we actually want from a digital product (I say product as it doesn't necessarily follow that it would be a magazine style in the conventional sense) or is it just that we haven't "fallen out of love with print" and whether its a resistance to change or a desire to retain the old style, we dont want to give up print easily? 

 

Rich

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8 inch tablet.

I found that to read the text, I was having to  zoom in, scrolling from side to side just to read a line, often text printed over pictures or  headlines meant scrolling onto the next page, double page photo spreads you couldn't see both pages clearly as you had to zoom out even on the 24inch monitor..

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43 minutes ago, cravensdmufan said:

No BRM = no RMweb. Simple as that I'm afraid.

 

Just collected my saved copy from my local newsagents.  Had a nice chat in there; great to have human contact. Another reason I will keep buying my print edition.

 

Looks another great edition - keep up the good work.

 

I know. I was on RMWeb before the involvement of BRM and I was glad it gave the forum some security.

 

At the time (and now) I would have been happy to pay a small membership/subscription to support RMWeb and keep it independent. I just don't like the idea of buying something I don't want in order to support it.

 

With RMWeb, at least I can pick and choose what I look at and the content is so large and varied that I can always find something that I enjoy. With BRM I am limited to a small number of articles on subjects that I wouldn't even glance at on RMWeb.

 

The sad thing for me is that I used to like the content and presentation of BRM. The magazine has changed, or as some would say has moved on, modernised and evolved but in doing so it left me behind!

 

I fully accept that I am out of step with the modern world of model railway magazine thinking, which is why the very unmodern MRJ appeals.

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Print for me. No tablet or PC has yet mastered the art of reproducing magazines without the backlighting needed to power a screen.... i just get less eye strain with paper!!

 

Also I've found that I've skim read my digital copies once and then never bothered to look over them again. It could also be that I only buy the magazines i want to read on paper so that could be the same. Mind you digital copies have saved loads of space in the house so my mrs is a little happier ;) 

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As someone who has authored a number of books and monographs, not on the subject of railway or its associated history, I am very much a print person; magazines, far too many to mention, which results in a clear-out now and then, with most being deposited at my local GP's surgery; It is of note that many, but by no means all, who publish online, are in the category of well-intentioned rather than well-informed (this can also apply equally to print, the more so the older the publication. Secondly I find it far easier to proof read from print, rather than having to scroll through lengthy PDF's or Word files etc.

However, I can see the advantage of the digital media, to wit, instant gratification, at your fingertips. Nevertheless I would advise caution when collating information from the web for a future project, and not take it as gospel, until it has been verified. Even printed sources can provide divergent statements, the web the more so.

I shall stick with books and magazines for now, until such time as we are forced to use a certain system. Digital media is stored on a variety of systems. Ask yourself, for how long will newer equipment be able to access those files. Recent history (the past 10 years or so), of photographic storage exemplifies this.

Does digital media have advantages, most certainly, the transference of files, that can be sent many times over, without the fear of a postal system losing or damaging them. Not having to wait, while said postal system takes ages to deliver, for whatever reason, they always have one.

Can anyone imagine what WH Smiths would be like if you had to stand in a queue to download your magazines and other items you wanted to read every month?

I believe that print will be with us for some time to come, and long may it remain so.

 

Trusting that all, who overindulged, have recovered and enjoyed themselves

 

Nigel

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30 minutes ago, doktorstamp said:

As someone who has authored a number of books and monographs, not on the subject of railway or its associated history, I am very much a print person; magazines, far too many to mention, which results in a clear-out now and then, with most being deposited at my local GP's surgery; It is of note that many, but by no means all, who publish online, are in the category of well-intentioned rather than well-informed (this can also apply equally to print, the more so the older the publication. Secondly I find it far easier to proof read from print, rather than having to scroll through lengthy PDF's or Word files etc.

However, I can see the advantage of the digital media, to wit, instant gratification, at your fingertips. Nevertheless I would advise caution when collating information from the web for a future project, and not take it as gospel, until it has been verified. Even printed sources can provide divergent statements, the web the more so.

I shall stick with books and magazines for now, until such time as we are forced to use a certain system. Digital media is stored on a variety of systems. Ask yourself, for how long will newer equipment be able to access those files. Recent history (the past 10 years or so), of photographic storage exemplifies this.

Does digital media have advantages, most certainly, the transference of files, that can be sent many times over, without the fear of a postal system losing or damaging them. Not having to wait, while said postal system takes ages to deliver, for whatever reason, they always have one.

Can anyone imagine what WH Smiths would be like if you had to stand in a queue to download your magazines and other items you wanted to read every month?

I believe that print will be with us for some time to come, and long may it remain so.

 

Trusting that all, who overindulged, have recovered and enjoyed themselves

 

Nigel

 

You raise an interesting thought there. How does it impact on future generations? Very often, if somebody asks me if I know of an drawings, photos or articles on a certain subject, I can recall seeing something and go to it on my shelves. Even if it is something in the background of a photo in an unrelated article. At worst I can usually look through an index and pick out a few possible places to look.

 

How will digital searches work for something like that? "I remember an article I saw on the internet once" is not quite the same as "I remember that article, I have it here". 

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Didn't Hornby decide that we didn't want or need printed catalogues a few years back now and faced a rather large backlash.

 

Printed material will always have it's place.

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Paper or digital? I have read railway modelling magazines for over sixty years now, and more recently I have followed my interest on line from the digital daily dose of RMweb.  I do not subscribe to any other on-line forums.  

 

Personally I find comfort in reading a paper edition - with the added 'warmth'  that a magazine gives me if it follows the same page contents discipline with each issue.  I am then able to dip in and out of the articles and features, knowing each time where they are in the magazine I am reading.  Somehow I find this dipping in and out difficult on the few occasions I have tried digital magazines.

 

So it is paper for me.  But RMweb does provide an invaluable bonus with its varied posts from a worldwide community of subscribers ranging from professional railwaymen to experienced established modellers, as well as from many modelling amateurs, all of whom bring a great variety of skills and knowledge to the postings.  This information on RMweb is often up to the minute as news breaks. This can only be provided by forums such as RMweb, and I accept that this is beyond the limitations of paper publications.  

 

Paper magazines do have the added benefit of much larger image sizes of the layouts and models featured than can be provided on mobile phones, or tablets.  I really do not want to sit facing a computer screen to read a magazine - certainly not to see a decent image size.

 

While digital information such as on-line magazines and RMweb are perceived as being free - there must be a cost somewhere along the line, either by subscription or from advertising.  Both media streams still require articles to be carefully researched and written, and then collated and edited.  From my understanding the only benefit for a publisher of a digital edition is the saving with paper / ink / and the distribution costs to the retailer. 

 

Having said all that, I appreciate I am of a generation who has purchased many items over the years.  I own a CD collection and do not download music.  I read a daily hard copy broadsheet newspaper, and do not rely on internet providers for my news.  We are in an age when houses are now rented not purchased for reasons we all understand, and cars are rented for a fixed term and then returned to the dealership.  I feel the same way about digital communication.  It is not owned and always at a distance behind a glass screen.  A magazine can be owned in its own right.  My daughter relies on her smart phone for all her communications on its small screen.  And maybe her generation are content to read railway modelling magazines in a similar way, with all the instant gratification of the information being to hand before the print edition.  But I am of the view that there is now too much information, and even an overload. This has its own possible problems of retrieving information when it is required.

 

I will continue reading paper magazines as my principal source of information, whether this is in my chair, in my railway shed, off line on holiday, and even in the smallest room in the house!  And I do have the added bonus of RMweb, with its postings to keep me in touch on my mobile phone.  For me it is the equivalent of a group of like minded friends discussing matters of mutual interest in the pub or clubroom.   IMHO hard facts need paper.

 

Finally I had a feature about my layout published in BRM magazine recently.  One of our club members texted me to say he had read the article on his digital edition last week.  I had to wait a week for my paper copy to read the article.  Last evening he admitted to me that the pictures in the paper edition were superior to his digital edition.  (AM)

 

 

 

 

 

   

Limit on how much we can digest.

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In the digital v paper discussion, one aspect of the digital side I like with Rmweb and shop sites is the instant news when a product is available and any bargain sales which occur, which with the paper adverts this has quite a lag time.

 

Or if you are researching a subject you can guarantee someone will answer your query which you submit fairly quickly.

 

However for articles the paper copy every time.

 

 

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In answer to the original post, for me, I get pleasure from reading the printed article.

As a geezer of advancing years, with all the attendant gradual failings, eyesight and fingers that aren`t what they once were, taking time to read and absorb the magazine articles have helped me no end over the years, whereas I`m not a huge user of the computer so reading online might not suit, but each to their own.

One thing I am grateful for though is being able to use the computer to access RMWeb and the help are we able to get from it.

I`m sure my modelling ability would be far less without either.

Jim.

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I happen to like both.

 

I still purchase MRJ and Narrow gauge and Industrial in hard copy form and that will not change. Similarly, I do like good books and have a substantial library.

 

One of the things that I changed long ago was the habit of buying all the magazines. i cut that out in the 1980s and since then only buy a magazine if it has something directly  of interest to my modelling. But the cheaper prices of digital make it worthwhile subscribing so I now subscribe to BRM, Steam Days and AFV modeller. 

 

I am happy to mix and match

 

Craig W

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I still buy the Hornby and Bachmann catalogues every year. Model Rail and Hornby Mag I now get via my iPhone app. Much less storage space taken up. That dove can be filled with models instead lol

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Print every time for me, with perhaps the odd exception of a back issue for a particular article. No need to worry about software, compatibility, storage or file corruption. Plus it will still be around in years to come, unlike say the ZX Spectrum and the games I used to play on it!

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