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  • Topic: REVIEW: Garden RR renewal promotion letter

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    • July 10, 2015 9:31 PM EDT

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      I'm old cause I was born in 1970 (which makes me 45 for those that have trouble with math) and I still really enjoy a magazine delivered to my home like I still do with the newspaper every Sunday. Just make sure you tip the carrier !

       

    • July 10, 2015 10:13 PM EDT
      • N. Kingstown, Rhode Island
         
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      Wow! You are old.

       

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    • July 10, 2015 11:13 PM EDT
      • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
         
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      Dennis, now now. I am few years older, and I am usually one of the youngest in a group of train nuts enthusiasts. 

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    • July 11, 2015 3:41 PM EDT
      • N. Kingstown, Rhode Island
         
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      Rooster knows I was just busting his chops. I'm actually older than him. ;)

      Dennis

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    • August 25, 2015 8:28 AM EDT

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      Well I still subscribe and like to support the mag.  I enjoy the layout articles, but thats about it.  I'd love to see more articles from external authors like Bruce, but can see why they dont bother sending anything in when there is such an ancient stock pile.  Frankly the problem is that the magazine is filled with articles by the columnists who frankly ran out of things to write about 10 years ago...and thats ALL of them.  I can see how they pat themselves on the back for filling another 4 pages to meet their bi-monthly quota...." phew, came up with something to write about...."  Drop half the columnists, or most of them and get in some fresh articles and writers.  But I suspect the magazine would prefer to have quality writers stump up well edited words and suitable photos every 2 months, even if its nothing remotely new or even a tad interesting, over an untried external submitted article needing editing and better photos.  Its Marc's choice, but frankly the Columnists have nothing to write about anymore yet fill the rag to the hilt.  No wonder little from outside gets in.  

      I still subscribe and hope for more, but the layout articles and photos are good.

      David.

       

       

       

    • August 25, 2015 9:08 AM EDT
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      David Russell said:

      I'm old cause I was born in 1970 (which makes me 45 for those that have trouble with math) and I still really enjoy a magazine delivered to my home like I still do with the newspaper every Sunday. Just make sure you tip the carrier !

       

      Ha I have you beat born in 1976.  That makes me 39.  I will agree with Rooster nothing beats a hard copy.  I hate reading off the internet.  I tried it with Garden Rail and found I did not enjoy reading it via the internet.  But a hard copy is over $100 to the US ouch......

      I still enjoy my Timber Times and 16mm magazines.  Always good stuff in these and my backwoodsman.   I have to rescribe to garden railway but it seems all the bills come at once.  I have to spread it out. 

       

       

      This post was edited by Shawn Viggiano at August 25, 2015 9:08 AM EDT
    • August 25, 2015 2:38 PM EDT

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      I try not to get involved with discussions concerning GR, because often what I write gets misconstrued as being an official statement on behalf of the magazine. I do not speak for Kalmbach, Marc, or anyone involved in the day-to-day production of Garden Railways.

       

      However, David and Bruce bring up some interesting points with regard to content and print journalism vs. the web. These are both near and dear to my heart for obvious reasons, so let me offer my perspective as a journalist of 20+ years who has seen the digital revolution's impact on newsrooms firsthand.

       

      I'll start with Bruce's comments comparing the benefit of online vs. print interaction. He's right on the mark, really, but you have to realize that the two aren't in competition with each other, rather they're quite symbiotic. The success of that symbiosis varies, but newsrooms (print and broadcast) are always looking for ways to have the web drive content to the primary media and vice versa. Print and broadcast have significant limitations--namely space and time. There's only so much you can cram into a 30-minute newscast or a 100-page magazine. Also, those two media are one-directional. It's put out to the masses at one time; 20 - 30K readers or 100K to millions for a TV broadcast depending on the newscast. The information goes out, but the channels for feedback come via the web, and hardly paint any kind of accurate picture of how the messages are received.

       

      The newscast or magazine article is designed to tell the story as deeply and thoroughly as the medium allows. Consider my "Staff Corner" articles; 2 pages, 500 words, and 4 or 5 pictures. It's not an in-depth "how to" by any means; it's not designed to be. It's brain fuel. It's show and tell. For most readers/viewers, it's sufficient. They're informed to the level they wish to be and they're off to the next story. Maybe 5% of those readers/viewers may want to see more. That's where the strength of the internet lies. The story I condense to 500 words and 5 photos for the magazine is told with much greater detail and many more photos on my blog. I can look to see how many people have viewed my posts on my blog. It's nowhere near the number of folks who read the magazine. The folks who do stop by, though, do so because they want to read more information than what they saw in print. By the same measure, we put stuff out there on the web for folks to come across via Google searches, Facebook, etc., in the hopes that they'll like what they read there, then tune in or buy the magazine to see more content like it all in one place. Each medium has the potential to drive traffic to the other.

       

      The internet--for its broad accessibility--is actually a pretty intimate medium. Yeah, there's a ton of stuff out there that's available to everyone, but the number of folks actually accessing it is surprisingly limited. Consider this forum. For all the internet, there's maybe 200 (if that) folks who are active participants here. More folks read and lurk, but we routinely see the same few names posting. It's a curious paradox, but one that fosters some great friendships between people, many of whom will likely never meet in person. The folks who are here and who are active are that small percentage of the "mass media" who are inclined to know more, and drawn together by that common desire to dig deeper into the subject. We're not just casual readers/viewers here; we're the ones who live and breathe this stuff, and see the internet as a means to meet others of like mind.

       

      The flip-side to that--and this goes to what David wrote--is that those of us on the forums are much more inclined to have a "been there, done that" attitude towards the stuff that's in the magazines. Many of the folks who have written articles for GR over the years have posted their stuff here first. Bruce's 2-8-2 conversion is "old news" to most of us here, yet it just ran in the last issue of GR. The stuff I write up for my "Staff Corner" shows up on my blog and on these pages long before it shows up in the pages of GR. Ray, Shawn, Eric, and others who have contributed articles to GR over the years have shown their stuff here first. David writes of the columns getting repetitious; much of what I write about in my "GR Basics" column is inspired from questions and discussions I find on the forums. If you're reading the forums with any regularity, absolutely, there's going to be a lot of "ho-hum" to what you read in the magazine. You're here "getting it as it's happening" so to speak, instead of distilled and packaged in the magazine months later.

       

      What we need to remember, though, is the numbers. We're 200 of that 20,000 - 30,000 audience of the magazine. They're not on the forums, so the content is going to be something they've not seen before. The other consideration is that we're by and large the same 200, whereas there's always a degree of turnover to the readership of the magazine. There's a good chance that long-time subscribers may get a "seen it" attitude with regard to certain topics, but--certainly for something like my column geared towards beginners--there's a logic behind re-packaging old topics in new contexts, because there are always new readers who are looking for answers to the same basic questions.

       

      Obviously, I have a vested interest in seeing folks subscribe to GR (or pick it up on the newsstand). Yet I don't begrudge anyone their reasons for not doing so. It's your money, your time. As an author, I read what you're thinking, and take those thoughts into consideration when writing my next article. I'm not expecting to change your minds, but if it's a concern for you, it's likely a concern for other readers as well. While I will rarely comment on threads relating to GR, it doesn't mean I don't pay attention to what folks are saying.

       

      Later,

       

      K

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    • August 25, 2015 5:58 PM EDT
      • Burke, Virginia
         
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      You may not think that magazines are not in competition with the forums, but I think they are to some extent.  

       

      I think most people have some sort of dollar limit, however large or small, that they are willing to spend on the hobby.   When money is pretty limited, people make a choice:

      • They can spend $24.95 on a subscription to GR and get some content every other month.
      • They can spend nothing and read and post to a forum on a daily basis.  
      • They can spend $25 for a freight shed and have room for lots of pictures that they can post to show off their work.
      • If they have more money, perhaps they do both.   I used to be in this category.

       

      From my point of view as an "author", I can sell my story to GR and get a check, but very little, if any feedback.   Or, I can come here and post and get lots of feedback.  (Or, maybe very little, if I am posting about something nobody else is interested in.)

       

      But, you're right on about the numbers.   We are a very small subset of the audience that GR gets.   However, I do think that is changing and we will continue to see  more people on the forums.   Or, we'll see evidence that they read a post; many folks are too shy to come forward and make a post - or perhaps just think that their stuff will be viewed as too amateurish.

       

      It's probably a tough time to be in the media business...

      This post was edited by Bruce Chandler at August 26, 2015 6:51 AM EDT
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      http://jbrr.com/

       

    • August 25, 2015 6:54 PM EDT

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      Bruce Chandler said:
      • If they have more money, perhaps they do both.   I used to be in this category.

       

      Now Bruce I ain't buying that statement!

      You just dove to NE for the weekend ...;)

    • August 25, 2015 7:51 PM EDT
      • Rio Linda, Cal.
         
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      Bruce Chandler.. Boy... we think the same thing as you.  We have done it all. Now moved more or less over here after yr's on other links.  Yup.... money is tighter and age is creeping up fast.  Still getting the GR. mag. due to it was Xmas gifts only.

      Far as posting,  We get a lot of comment here and advice,  even if we screw up on doing something wrong.. Good group of people and post here.. 

      Our money is well spent on the frt. shed.   

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      Little Rio feather says...One leave train running here and takes a coffee break, may find Koi fishes checking out how deep an Engine can swim when the Swing Bridge is left open. It happen to Big Feather Tweedledum.... Burnt finger Nbr. SA#49
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    • August 26, 2015 1:56 AM EDT

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      "You may not think that magazines are not in competition with the forums, but I think they are to some extent."

       

      To the extent that we're talking solely about the population who hangs out on the forums already, I can see where you're coming from. If the magazine is repackaging that which we've already read (in much more depth) on the forums, then there has to be additional value within the content of the magazine outside of that forum-sourced material to attract the reader to the magazine. Since we're talking about such a small percentage of the whole, though, I don't see those numbers having much impact--certainly no more than those who don't re-up for other reasons, likely less. (I was surprised at how many folks I talked to at the convention didn't visit the forums, read blogs, etc.) 

       

      The challenge for traditional media outlets is how best to blend the old and the new. Soon extinct will be the days when you "just" buy a magazine subscription and get a paper copy delivered to your mailbox. I see the model changing to buying a subscription to the content itself, and being able to choose how it's delivered. I don't see paper copies of magazines or books going away anytime soon, but I do see people opting more and more for electronic versions of content, especially if there's added content that can be linked through the medium. I look at Model Railroad Hobbyist magazine as a neat example of what can be done to blend the old and the new. (The other challenge is getting folks to generate the additional content, but that's another discussion.) I think if the print media can bundle traditional and electronic content, they'll do well for themselves. 

       

      None of this is to the detriment of the independent forum at all. I think places like LSC and MLS will continue to thrive so long as the community members themselves keep it alive. These places are very free-flowing, and specifically not organized (in a good way). Places like this are the incubators of ideas. Take the thread on working brakes, which is right now very theoretical and spit-balling ideas on what may and may not work. That kind of interaction and back-and-forth doesn't make very good magazine article fodder in its own right, but it's precisely the kind of interaction that's needed to shape and refine the ideas so that they can be turned into articles down the road.

       

      Once we're at the point where we've got a refined product (content), I think that's where the traditional outlets have advantages we individually don't on these forums (besides a much broader audience). They've got the resources (warm bodies) to gather all the various elements and coordinate things so the content can be accessed across the various platforms, cross-referenced, archived, downloadable files can be accessed, etc. It doesn't fall on just one person. That's part of that symbiotic relationship I mentioned above. Each entity serves a unique purpose, and both can thrive if they feed off of each other. 

       

      Later,

       

      K

      This post was edited by Kevin Strong at August 26, 2015 6:55 AM EDT
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    • August 26, 2015 9:29 AM EDT
      • Lancaster, Ohio
         
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      One thing that may effect the use of forums by many in the large scale hobby is age demographics. Face it a large number of us are old pharts and I was surprised to find at my recent class reunion that several classmates did not own computers or any other of the newer media devices. Some folks just don't want to deal with the learning curve. The younger generations who started using computers in kindergarten or earlier are probably more at ease reading online media and prefer that to print publications. Myself, I found less and less interest in GR and for the past few years bought it more for the ads and new product announcements but with the departure of many of the advertisers I found it was no longer worth the subscription cost to me.

    • August 26, 2015 11:35 AM EDT

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      Up until a few years ago, I preferred things in print, easier to read, bigger, more portable.

       

      Now I have a number of great, lightweight touchscreen computers. I can have thousands of books and manuals and magazines at my fingertips, and the computer is smaller than the magazine, i.e. portable.

       

      I'm going all electronic, no more paper for me, even all my records are getting scanned and the paper shredded.

       

      Now I can use one type of device for pretty much all my reading.

       

      Greg

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    • August 26, 2015 11:39 AM EDT
      • Deer Park, Washington
         
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      Greg Elmassian said:

      Up until a few years ago, I preferred things in print, easier to read, bigger, more portable.

       

      Now I have a number of great, lightweight touchscreen computers. I can have thousands of books and manuals and magazines at my fingertips, and the computer is smaller than the magazine, i.e. portable.

       

      I'm going all electronic, no more paper for me, even all my records are getting scanned and the paper shredded.

       

      Now I can use one type of device for pretty much all my reading.

       

      Greg

      My son is the same way.  He, too, has thousands of books on his handheld reader.

       

      I asked to borrow one... In return, I got the Thousand Yard Stare.  

      This post was edited by Steve Featherkile at August 26, 2015 11:41 AM EDT
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    • August 30, 2015 2:57 PM EDT
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      Gary Buchanan said:

      One thing that may effect the use of forums by many in the large scale hobby is age demographics. Face it a large number of us are old pharts and I was surprised to find at my recent class reunion that several classmates did not own computers or any other of the newer media devices. Some folks just don't want to deal with the learning curve. The younger generations who started using computers in kindergarten or earlier are probably more at ease reading online media and prefer that to print publications. Myself, I found less and less interest in GR and for the past few years bought it more for the ads and new product announcements but with the departure of many of the advertisers I found it was no longer worth the subscription cost to me.

       

       

       

      There is also another way of sharing info and its not through forums.  Its through Facebook.  I found you get a large number of younger folks posting to the facebook train pages.  A few of the train groups have well over 1200 members.  The advantage to Facebook is:

      - you see more of the younger generation interested and posting. 

      -Snap a picture with your phone and post it to the group you want on FB.  Its easy to post pictures and post to topics.

      - Uploading is fast for photos and videos.  You post a youtube video link and the video comes up in the post. 

      -you can be anywhere you have cell reception and post updates

      I have to admit I find myself posting more and more to FB because its so easy. I also like that that the FB pages are more specific.  If you like 16mm you can join that, the same for 1:20 fine scale or 7/8ths scale.

        I can use my phone for the forums but I find it slower and harder to read and type.    The disadvantages to FB is, its harder to find old posts and harder to do build logs etc......  But for questions and posting pictures, its a lot better.  There is even a G scale swap and shop that is far better the ebay especially price wise and no bidding wars. 

      This post was edited by Shawn Viggiano at August 30, 2015 3:07 PM EDT
    • August 30, 2015 5:20 PM EDT
      • Burke, Virginia
         
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      Facebook can be good for "alerting" people about what you're doing.   It's actually pretty cool as a way to share pictures; and very easy to update.    But, as you say, it's very difficult to "follow" a story.   For me, it's very hard to understand "where" a post went sometimes, and I don't quite understand why it disappears.   

      Heh...maybe it's just senility?  

      ____________________________________

      Bruce

      http://jbrr.com/

       

    • August 30, 2015 6:33 PM EDT
      • Shut up Rooster
         
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      Bruce Chandler said:

      Facebook can be good for "alerting" people about what you're doing.   It's actually pretty cool as a way to share pictures; and very easy to update.    But, as you say, it's very difficult to "follow" a story.   For me, it's very hard to understand "where" a post went sometimes, and I don't quite understand why it disappears.   

      Heh...maybe it's just senility?  

       

       

      That's the biggest problem with FB.  If you don't get a response or at least respond with a "Bump"  your post will get lost, never to be found.  I also like that you get a lot more people posting.   

    • August 31, 2015 6:54 PM EDT

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       As the author of the initial posting, I'm interested in your reaction to the recent subscription renewal effort by Kalmbach. We have had varied topic responses apparently activated by the original posting.

       

      To hopefully generate a shift back to the topic, here's some bits from the initial posting:

      The renewal "special discount" and "lowest price of the year" offer (a promotion letter for garden RR sendt by Kalmbach) is $31.30 for the year.  In the month prior, the yearly subscription was listed at $32.95. All this hoopla for $1.65 one time savings! This "savings" amount was never stated.

      However, in 2014, at this same time, the standard subscription rate was $29.95. 

       

      My take is the REAL message is in the last line of the promotion letter:  "After 7/10/15, the price will go back up to our standard renewal rate on all future renewal notices." They don't say what that will be.

      My guess is what is not being said is expect another subscription rate increase.  So the publisher wants as many renewals prior to making that announcement.

       

      Here's my point: Be upfront with what the subscription savings really is and if an increase is anticipated indicate renew now.

       Wendell

      This post was edited by Wendell Hanks at August 31, 2015 7:05 PM EDT
    • August 31, 2015 7:30 PM EDT

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