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 Post subject: Re: Carstens Publications--Any More Printed Editions?
PostPosted: Thu Aug 21, 2014 7:31 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
Posts: 8355
Location: Baltimore, MD
The Source Home Entertainment turmoil will have its most immediate impact on exactly those kind of stores--WalMart, Target, supermarkets, and chains where the magazines are supplied by "one-stop-shopping distribution" places that basically rent the shelves from the stores and stock the shelves themselves. Big Bookstore Chains (do we still have more than two?) and larger newsstands deal with more distributors, and some of the distributors may be frantically trying to pick up the slack. Hobby shops deal directly with the publishers, for the most part, but for the amount of work involved it's practically doing the hobby shop customer a favor, trying to lure them into the shop to get attracted to the brass models, the latest RC or DCC technology, or whatever.


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 Post subject: Re: Carstens Publications--Any More Printed Editions?
PostPosted: Thu Aug 21, 2014 12:50 pm 

Joined: Tue Mar 25, 2014 11:49 am
Posts: 41
If magazines are going to go the why of e-publications, they are going to have to re-evaluate their format. Typically announcements and classifieds are italicized and/or about 6 pt vs. their articles of around 11 or 12 pt. These will have to be easier to read. The biggest area the publishers will have to rethink is their layout and pagination. The two and three column page width will not be workable to readers. Who wants to scroll down one column and then scroll back up for the next one. This is not workable. Along with this, the old habit of splitting an article from say pages 6-10 and then continued on page 52 will be a pain as he reader will have to tab all the way thru the issue to get to the required page. Finally, on the largest area is pricing. Since the costs of paper, printers, distribution, and postage are eliminated, the price for a subscription will have to be drastically reduced. Going from say $40/year for the mailed hardcopy to say $35/year for an e-copy won't work. The new subscription will have to be perhaps 50% or lower or the publication will quickly be out of business. All of those outside costs that were previously incurred are eliminated and most work will be kept in-house. The largest outside expense would be keeping the e-mail addresses up to date, unless this is kept in-house. Finally, how many of the aging subscribers be lost due to not using computers? Time, however, will take care of this problem.

Fred Heilich


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 Post subject: Re: Carstens Publications--Any More Printed Editions?
PostPosted: Thu Aug 21, 2014 1:13 pm 

Joined: Wed Jan 19, 2005 1:52 pm
Posts: 53
Location: Newton, NJ
Here's the official announcement:

"Carstens Publications has announced that negotiations are taking place with several companies regarding the future publishing of Railfan & Railroad, Railroad Model Craftsman and Flying Models magazines. All involved ask for your patience at this time."

On a personal note, I'm talking with a few R&R alumni to provide features for Railfan's 40th anniversary issue in November. Stay tuned!

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Steve Barry
Editor
Railfan & Railroad
Swedesboro, NJ


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 Post subject: Re: Carstens Publications--Any More Printed Editions?
PostPosted: Thu Aug 21, 2014 2:47 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 7:58 am
Posts: 728
Thanks, Steve- hopefully the negotiations will go well, and put an end to the uncertainty and rumour mill traffic once and for all.

Steve Hunter


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 Post subject: Re: Carstens Publications--Any More Printed Editions?
PostPosted: Thu Aug 21, 2014 3:41 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
Posts: 8355
Location: Baltimore, MD
btrw wrote:
If magazines are going to go the why of e-publications, they are going to have to re-evaluate their format. Typically announcements and classifieds are italicized and/or about 6 pt vs. their articles of around 11 or 12 pt. These will have to be easier to read. The biggest area the publishers will have to rethink is their layout and pagination. The two and three column page width will not be workable to readers. Who wants to scroll down one column and then scroll back up for the next one. This is not workable. Along with this, the old habit of splitting an article from say pages 6-10 and then continued on page 52 will be a pain as he reader will have to tab all the way thru the issue to get to the required page. Finally, on the largest area is pricing. Since the costs of paper, printers, distribution, and postage are eliminated, the price for a subscription will have to be drastically reduced. Going from say $40/year for the mailed hardcopy to say $35/year for an e-copy won't work. The new subscription will have to be perhaps 50% or lower or the publication will quickly be out of business. All of those outside costs that were previously incurred are eliminated and most work will be kept in-house. The largest outside expense would be keeping the e-mail addresses up to date, unless this is kept in-house. Finally, how many of the aging subscribers be lost due to not using computers? Time, however, will take care of this problem.


You analysis fails on one or two points.
The old measure of a viable publication, from a lowly local newspaper to the New York Times or Time Magazine, is that the advertising used to pay for the paper and distribution, and the cover price paid for the content. Around the time that newsprint prices started skyrocketing in the 1980s, it went the other way--the cover price, especially with a big, thick New York Times, started to not even cover the cost of paper, let alone distribution. Now that both newspapers and magazines are caught in a serious circulation decline, that impacts the advertising revenue (or what little is left of it), and at some point it simply makes no sense whatsoever to print unless you're all-volunteer--and, in that case, you get what you pay for. The giants of men's magazine advertising back in the 1960s and 1970s--mass-market booze, tobacco products, cars, record companies, watches, designer labels--are all in serious decline. Even the people I know who work in online marketing admit the entire field of online advertising is still a confused mess, with few dependable, reliable revenue streams besides "clickbait" semi-nude pics of the latest models.....

As one cynical business adviser told me, "What will doom America and the Internet is that the Internet has conditioned people to expect vastly better product for free." When you purchase any book or periodical, you are effectively paying the writers, editors, reporters, photographers, etc. to entertain and/or inform you through their finished product. You are paying for their expertise, and entrusting their judgement as to what is important, relevant, entertaining, or "nice to look at" and rewarding them for that work with your purchase.

Even before the Internet, railfans and modelers were getting overwhelmed with the number of speciality publications, constantly muttering "Too many magazines out there, can't read them all... gotta cut back...." Who among us had that situation, subscribing to Trains, R&R, PTJ, L&RP, the "local" mag (Railpace/Pacific Rail News/Flimsies/etc.), plus whatever local newsletter came from whichever local NRHS chapter or "tech & hist society"? People claim "you can get it all on the Internet now," but, no, you can't. I learn more about a line from a "train chaser's guide" in Railpace or a comprehensive article in R&R or Trains, or even some long travelogue or documentary from DPM, George Drury, or Dave Ingles than I'll find online today. Even today, content has shrunk--articles are shorter, Trains no longer runs "Railroad News Photos" (the way many of us got our first photos published), etc.

Yes, I have an axe to grind, and skin in the game--I've been paid by almost all the major rail magazines over the years for photos and articles. But even if I were qualified for the job now in 2014, I'm not sure I'd want to be at the desks of Wrinn, Barry, Schafer, etc. or their superiors in the financial offices........ it's pretty [bleeping] scary out there right now.


Last edited by Alexander D. Mitchell IV on Mon Aug 25, 2014 3:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Carstens Publications--Any More Printed Editions?
PostPosted: Thu Aug 21, 2014 4:33 pm 

Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2004 8:10 am
Posts: 2332
Gents,

Before the sky falls, two things to remember from the POV of someone immersed in the global content development & advertising industry...

1) Do not mistake the Carsten's situation for the woes of the marketplace in general. I know it is tempting to see this as a sign of the apocalypse for hobby publishing, but that would be overreaching.

2) England supports a rail magazine industry that includes 3x-5x the number of national titles in the US (and are even sold in local convenience stores) with a total population of less than that of California and Pennsylvania combined. That's a whole lot of slick, professional magazines sold in a geographic footprint smaller than that of Railpace.

It's easy to blame the economy, Obama, the Internet, #1361 and Steamtown (did I miss any whipping posts?) but the reality is you can make a TON of money by building content around niche interest groups. And print still plays a key role. Want proof? Check out RedBull. One of the best digital content marketing brands out there also launched a magazine. You can't have an educated discussion about today's media climate without fully understanding the RedBull case.

You might even ask why Walgreens just launched a new beauty magazine if the genre is dead.

Let's hope the Carsten's situation gets resolved as there are some very good people there who depend upon that pay check whom I am happy to call friends.

But let's not get carried away.

Rob

PS: BTW - as a TRAINS subscriber for over 40 years, I dare say that magazine has reached quite a peak under Jim Wrinn as compared to where it was in the 1990's. My opinion of Model Railroader is exactly the opposite. I have always preferred RMC.


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 Post subject: Re: Carstens Publications--Any More Printed Editions?
PostPosted: Thu Aug 21, 2014 5:36 pm 

Joined: Sun May 23, 2010 11:27 am
Posts: 420
Location: Switching the Coach Yard
robertjohndavis wrote:
It's easy to blame the economy, Obama, the Internet, #1361 and Steamtown (did I miss any whipping posts?)


I'm thinking Ross Rowland, 643, TNVR 4501 color selection, and my personal favorite, CSX mechanical policy.

robertjohndavis wrote:
PS: BTW - as a TRAINS subscriber for over 40 years, I dare say that magazine has reached quite a peak under Jim Wrinn as compared to where it was in the 1990's. My opinion of Model Railroader is exactly the opposite. I have always preferred RMC.


I've always liked Trains and R&R and gone back and forth sometimes month to month with my preferences. Its generally healthy to have a "loyal opposition" and I think they play off of each other nicely. I'm sure I'll mess this up somewhere, but the Ed King article on Rock Island commuter operations is probably my favorite from Trains and the R&R articles by Preston Cook, Win Cuisner(Sp?) on things Alco and EMD were my R&R favorites. All those articles coming out about the same timeframe +/-.

ETA


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 Post subject: Re: Carstens Publications--Any More Printed Editions?
PostPosted: Fri Aug 22, 2014 12:13 am 

Joined: Fri Feb 12, 2010 7:52 pm
Posts: 78
Although appreciated, if nothing more than for its proof of life, the "official statement" is grossly insufficient. It lacks any explanation of the specifics of the hold up nor does it offer an apology to those who have committed financially to an organization that is not delivering on their promise. The subscribers provided money with the understanding that they would receive timely and reliable service. This has not happened. To not offer any of the aforementioned but instead request more from them (in patience) seems to be missing the mark. A vague notion of future receipt is tough to believe without definitive proof of a plan in place.


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 Post subject: Re: Carstens Publications--Any More Printed Editions?
PostPosted: Fri Aug 22, 2014 2:32 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 8:51 pm
Posts: 1483
Location: Southern California
There is an interesting post to the parallel thread over on the Narrow Gauge Railroad Discussion Forum (NGDF). It reports to quote the editor of the On30 annual and it gives a run down on the downward spiral caused by various calamities.

Link here to NGDF post

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Brian Norden


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 Post subject: Re: Carstens Publications--Any More Printed Editions?
PostPosted: Fri Aug 22, 2014 12:10 pm 

Joined: Thu Aug 21, 2014 11:49 am
Posts: 1
Steve Barry's report is welcome, but the phones at Carstens have not been answered for about two weeks now. This tends to suggest that the staff has been let go and the business is in fact closed. If they are trying to make a recovery, keeping their customers in the dark is not helping.

Michael Allen


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 Post subject: Re: Carstens Publications--Any More Printed Editions?
PostPosted: Fri Aug 22, 2014 1:46 pm 

Joined: Sat Aug 25, 2007 12:45 am
Posts: 458
An email from the former editor of Railroad Model Craftsman magazine:

Quote:
From: Bill Schaumburg
Date: August 22, 2014 9:31:29 AM PDT
Subject: Lights out at the "Pub"

Colleagues,

It has been a great run and it is lights out at Carstens Pub by 5:00 p.m. I will close out my term here of nearly 38 years with the following from Doug Adams, who wrote it around the time I came to RMC:

"So Long, and Thanks for all the fish."

Bill Schaumburg

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Chris Webster
Personal Website Last Updated in 1996


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 Post subject: Re: Carstens Publications--Any More Printed Editions?
PostPosted: Fri Aug 22, 2014 1:53 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
Posts: 8355
Location: Baltimore, MD
In moderate defence of Carstens or anyone else stuck in their presumably awkward/embarrassing situation, public pronouncements of either financial difficulties or major changes under negotiation (purchase by another publisher, shutdown, whatever) almost always do more harm than good, and usually exacerbate the difficult situation, killing any deal for survival under negotiation. As a matter of fact, people in business would call them unwise to have even acknowledged that the magazines were being marketed to another publisher at all.

In the hospitality industry (bar/hotel/restaurant), even rumours of financial troubles can guarantee that you go down the drain rather than circle it. This is why it's routine for restaurants and bars to close with NO warning whatsoever, even to staff. No one wants to go to a dying restaurant or bar, unless it was a local legend for 70 years; no one wants to send money to a publication or website that might not deliver, or change over to a web-only delivery or new format or whatever.

We will see more of this kind of thing before it's over. Remember, this website is technically the "heir" of or successor to the late Locomotive & Railway Preservation Magazine........


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 Post subject: Re: Carstens Publications--Any More Printed Editions?
PostPosted: Fri Aug 22, 2014 2:34 pm 

Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2004 8:10 am
Posts: 2332
After 81 years as the best magazine of North American model railroading the news has come via the Internet, Railroad Model Craftsman has run out of track as the publisher's office closes today at 5pm. To Bill, Chris and the gang I offer my deepest thanks and best wishes.

It was an honor and pleasure to contribute to RMC over the years, and I am still genuinely thrilled that the editors found my modeling work and photography worthy of feature articles and covers. My first-ever published photo appeared in RMC when I was quite young. I will always value these personal connections to RMC.

The magazine was about much more than toy trains. Each issue was a history lesson and RMC was a tremendous resource for those interested in our railroad and industrial past, especially of the northeast and midwest. The landmark anthracite railroads and milk trains series, among others, brought those niche areas of focus to a larger audience. My interest in milk trains, which lead to starting the Yahoo! Milk Trains group, was nurtured by RMC articles.

The editorial team genuinely cared about the future of our hobby. They weren’t shy about that and it was part of the charm of RMC. A lot of the advancements in prototype modeling and the increased fidelity of models on the market can be attributed to RMC pushing the envelope of realism in modeling and operations.

The RMC team was a group of good people who helped make our hobby better. As we wish them the best with their next endeavor, lets make sure to thank them for what they have done in the name of our hobby.

Wishing you all the best my friends,

Rob


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 Post subject: Re: Carstens Publications--Any More Printed Editions?
PostPosted: Fri Aug 22, 2014 5:53 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 8:28 am
Posts: 2438
Location: Salt Lake City, Utah
Here's the offical announcement from the Carstens webpage:

Quote:
Carstens Publications
August 22nd, 2014
It is with regret that Carstens Publicatons, Inc. will be closing permanently at close of business on Friday, August 22, 2014. Carstens Publications, Inc. has been a leading publisher of leading hobby magazines for over 50 years. Unfortunately the current economic climate has placed us in this position. Discussion is continuing with several parties who expressed desire to take on the continuance of the magazines. At this point there is still hope that all three titles will remain in existence. But I can offer no guarantees. We thank you for your patronage over the years, and wish you the best of luck in your endeavors.

—Henry R. Carstens, President
Carstens Publications, Inc.


Personally, I used to get R&R back in my youth, as it was cheaper, but never really liked it compared to the competition, especially in the Jim Wrinn era. RMC really tried to carve out a market to be a magazine that specialized in people who still scratchbuilt and kitbashed, and I think that's going to be missed.

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--
David M. Wilkins

"They Love Him for the Enemies He Has Made!"


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 Post subject: Re: Carstens Publications--Any More Printed Editions?
PostPosted: Fri Aug 22, 2014 6:18 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 11:17 am
Posts: 61
Location: Rocky Hill, NJ
I'd like to take this opportunity to publicly thank the Carstens and their staff for the support which they have shown for Operation Lifesaver over the years, both here in New Jersey and nationally. I wish you all well and I'm certain we'll be hearing from you again soon.

Michael Allen for NJ Operation Lifesaver


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