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Old Mar 27, 2001, 04:03 PM
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Blacksburg, VA 24060 USA
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Where Are the Paper Magazines Going?

The thread started by Larry about the quality of electric airplane coverage in Model Aviation got me to wondering: Considering how rapidly sites like this E-Zone can cover events, new products, and Q&A forums, what will the paper magazines have to do to be able to compete?

What I like about paper magazines: I can study them anywhere, anytime; I can store them (though storage has gotten to be a problem after nearly 50 years!); I can copy articles out of them for suitable categorizing. Kit reviews are often very useful, and even when several mags cover the same kit, I learn something new (despite what I say below!). I like their plans, because they give me ideas for scratchbuilding.

I like the general coverage magazines and I subscribe to RCM, MA, MAN, FM. I get copies of Aviation Modeller, Flying Scale Models, and S&EM at the newsstand, though I'm leaning toward subscribing to S&EM.

What I don't like about paper magazines: Long lead time; repetitive coverage by all magazines of the same events, kits (see above), etc; the price of plans. (Yes, I know the argument for why plans cost what they do.)

What I like about E-Zone: I get instant answers to my questions; I can post instant answers and suggestions (like this one); I get the latest news and views, sort of.

The paper magazines are branching out into Web versions, as RCM does. I figure it's a sign of a trend: Sooner or later, all magazines will figure out a way to go electronic in order to make money, and paper will fade away.

And I further figure that on-line magazines will become more specialized, just as E-Zone is.

Is this a good thing? From the business point of view, maybe it's good, because an electronic magazine needs less structuring to "fit" into its chosen format and delivery system; a paper magazine is constantly struggling with selection of materials to fit a layout. Layout work is very labor-intensive, because ads have to be fit in just so, along with the editorial content.

And there's the matter of getting the book to the printers, having enough (but not too many) copies made, labeling, and mailing. Electronic publishing is simpler and involves fewer people,--doesn't it, Jim Bourke? And aren't startup costs less, too?

Is it good for the consumer? Well, that's a subjective notion. The world and its inhabitants do what they do, and the rest of us learn to cope as best we can. I figure I'm old enough (62) that I will mourn the passing of paper magazines, while applauding the rapid updating of info to be found on the Net.

Bottom line: Any magazine, paper or electronic, is what its readers make it. Given the rapid response via the Internet, publishers like E-Zone get a lot of response from the readers--and that's very good. Paper magazines haven't caught on to that, yet. If paper mags figure out how to incorporate material directed to them via e-mail and Internet into their hardcopy, maybe there'll be a lot more life left in paper. Maybe they will be able to offer plans at lower (or no?) cost. (The paper Aviation Modeller and Flying Scale Models (when it publishes!) feature free plan(s) in every issue.)

And maybe then the questions of quality among all the magazines will better reflect what readers really want to see and read. And what they are willing to pay for that the publishers can provide at attractive prices.

Jim Ruggiero
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Old Mar 27, 2001, 04:43 PM
Visitor from Reality
United States, VA, Arlington
Joined Dec 1996
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Jim

A lot of good points.

Having a somewhat slightly insider position on the mag game, I suspect there's still far more of us still rely on a paper mag to get our info than dedicated 'onliners'.

You could argue that these are the folk who still build lots of models, rather than sit in front of a tube reading the E Zone forums


Look at what happened to e-tailers. We were all supposed to stop driving to shops and buy off the web.

Anyone want a cheap glove puppet?

Lastly, it'll be a long while before our small domestic "reading rooms" are wired for ultra-high speed, "always on" web connection.

Until that happy time, a paper mag has an on-line one beaten hands down

Regards

Dereck
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Old Mar 27, 2001, 05:41 PM
Motors beat engines!
Milwaukee Wisconsin, United States
Joined Feb 2001
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The arguement that paper mags will fade away is similar to the one advanced when first radio, then tv became popular.
All these years later however, all these medias are still thriving.
None supplanted previous technology, they all coexist without diminishing each other and the point could be supported that they bolster each other.
The internet should be the same.

Dean in Milwaukee
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Old Mar 27, 2001, 10:15 PM
Living electrically
West of Emporia Kansas
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One additional plus for the paper magazines it that they are easier to take to the bathroom than the entire monitor. Lighter too.....jb
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Old Mar 27, 2001, 11:12 PM
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Canada
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Appears to me that the 'promise' of the internet is in reality reduced to a series of 'chatrooms' on a unbelievable variety of topics, none too arcane it appears, where missinformation is traded.
Social clubs perhaps?
Magazines offer 'information' of a semi reliable nature, therin lies the attraction.
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Old Mar 27, 2001, 11:41 PM
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Let's not forget that a fair number of people still don't have computers. Paper mags are the only option for them.
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Old Mar 27, 2001, 11:45 PM
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Keremeos, BC, Canada
Joined Dec 1996
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Of course, not all mags are created equal. I buy a couple of Brit magazines at double the cost of the US mags for one reason: information. Not just the ads or the product reviews, but the variety of information, freeflight,electrics, full-size plans (!), and just better copy. When the US mags learn this stuff, they will prosper. Aeromodeller has been around for a LONG time, and I feel that the full-size plans have a lot to do with that.
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Old Mar 28, 2001, 02:04 AM
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Asturias, Spain
Joined Mar 2001
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I've only been registered for a few weeks but I hate to think what I'd have had to spend in magazines for such a good read. I'm lucky enough to have permanent cable connection at home. What hasn't this got. well it's sponsors are mainly American or Canadian so I can't get much info about prices; pull out plans, but then I take so long building that I wouldn't be able to take advantage of them.

Just one question as an example. Where and at what price could I buy a book that covers this topic in such detail and that wouldn't be out of date as soon as battery/electronics technology changes?
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Old Mar 28, 2001, 03:19 AM
Single-task at best...
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Telford, UK
Joined Feb 2000
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Where the net scores obviously is in its immediacy - someone has a good idea in Turniptown, UK, posts the thread and the whole online world knows within hours.

I buy EFI every month (and very good it is too Dereck), but most of its hot news seems to have been already discussed here.

tim
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Old Mar 28, 2001, 06:28 AM
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New Zealand, Taranaki, Midhirst
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Dereck : I'll give ya 50 cents on the Glove puppet as long as it has pedigree papers.

Paper be here for ever.

Sluf7
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Old Mar 28, 2001, 06:55 AM
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United Kingdom, Aberdeen
Joined Sep 2000
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Quote:
Originally posted by Dereck:

You could argue that these are the folk who still build lots of models, rather than sit in front of a tube reading the E Zone forums

Ouch

Paper mags are great (IMHO) for you can read them in the bath and it is nice to be able to go back to them for detailed information. Storing them is a nightmare though - twenty or thirty years of mags take up a lot of room - and it would be nice if someone could create a searchable database of articles etc from the magazines (like Pilot magazine has each year in digital form).

You also occasionally read that the magazine reviews are universally non-critical- which certainly couldn't be said of the e-reviews around the 'net. Certainly some recent magazine reviews of well known ARTFs with reported "problems" with the undercarriage were unusual in that the review models were constructed without undercarriage for hand launching- we are talking .40-.46 powered warbirds here. The price of these has dropped by about a third in the past few months despite these reviews.

For instant answers, news, comment and opinion you can't beat the ezone which has the benefit of freshness and closeness-to-the-people. Opinions and wacky stuff about models which wouldn't see the light of day in the mags abound on the 'net.

Oh and BTW the Nexus website suggests that they will soon have produced their last Aeromodeller magazine- the title is to be discontinued by Nexus and they are looking for a buyer. The story is on the RCM&E discussion group (www.model-flying.co.uk).

cheers

Brian
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Old Mar 28, 2001, 08:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by leccyflyer:
Ouch

Oh and BTW the Nexus website suggests that they will soon have produced their last Aeromodeller magazine- the title is to be discontinued by Nexus and they are looking for a buyer. The story is on the RCM&E discussion group (www.model-flying.co.uk).

cheers

Brian

A sad day in aeromodelling.

Hardly surprising. Nexus never had the interest in the hobby that Argus and its other incarnations had. Just a bunch of accountants out to make money.

I'm glad I had the priviledge of knowing the Argus crowd when they were top flight publishers of hobby magazines - even worked with Alec Gee for a month back in 1992. You could go into the offices in Hemel Hempstead and talk hobbies with the most knowledgeable in the field, while the legends of aeromodelling often wandered around. One visit, I found myself admiring a little FF model a visitor dropped on the table.

Nearly fell over when I read the address lable - Vic Smeed!

I hope dear old Fairymuddler finds a good home.

Dereck
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Old Mar 28, 2001, 09:53 AM
aka: A.Roger Wilfong
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I'd like to address the issue of misinformation.

Above, Bare notes, "...promise of the the internet is in reality reduced to a series of 'chatrooms' ... where missinformation is traded.

"Magazines offer 'information' of a semi reliable nature, therin lies the attraction."

While I have to agree that there is a great deal of misinformation floating around the web, I think that most seasoned users are aware of this condition. I, for one, consider the source of the information before acting on it. I think the danger comes in the attitude that because it appears in a hard media such as a mag or book that it is any more reliable than if it appeared on the web.

In the hobby press, I've read may things that were dead nuts false.

"If you put the rocket motor at the nose, the rocket will have to be stable because the motor is pulling the rocket instead of pushing it." - a parapharse from a commercial model rocket magazine circa 1970. Goddard though this too - in the late 1920's, before he worked out the aerodynamics involved.

"It's best to just turn your transmitter on and let the batteries go completely flat." - a recent hard copy model magazine. Anyone believe this?

I read an article in Hobby Retailer about 10 years ago reporting on a series of tests comparing model rocket ignitors by a self proclaimed model rocket testing laboratory. The testing techniques measured no significant parameters, were unrepeatable and useless. But a lot of hobby shop owners were exposed to them.

Unfortunately, deadlines and publishing schedules don't allow for peer review on technical. Editors frequently don't have the expertese in all technical areas to validate the information in an article. After all, that's what they're paying the author for.

None of this is intended as a general condemnation of the model mags. I think thay generally give good information and good value; however, you still need to beware that just because it appeared in a magazine, it ain't necessarily so.

I currently read most of the model airplane mags, but I'm about to drop subscriptions to RCM and MAN - I find myself reading less and less of each issue. While the British mags are more expensive, I think they give better value. I usually find something of interest in Flying Models.

BTW. After the recent discussion of Model Aviation, I was pleased to see so much of the latest issue devoted to slow flight and e-flight. Of course two-thirds of the e-flight column was devoted to the slow charger from h*ll - would someone put it out of our misey!

- Roger
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Old Mar 28, 2001, 10:54 AM
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Blacksburg, VA 24060 USA
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Guys,

I'm gratified to see this healthy and frank discussion of the magazines. (And note that you seldom get this kind of frankness -- or humor -- in the paper mags).

I'd like to address a question of relative expenditure of labor, which I'd hoped Jim Bourke would address. Paper mags hire lots of graphic artists to design and lay out the "book," as each monthly edition is called, because layout is very labor intensive--and expensive. There are fewer editorial staff (I'm not counting contributing editors, who often provide the bulk of editorial content, but who are not at work in the editorial offices).

I assume that the overall design of Web pages is mostly fixed at birth of the publication, so little or no added layout is needed from month to month. So E-Zone and other such publications don't need a lot of labor in layout and design every month, compared to paper magazines. Right?

My question: Does this mean that the leaner staff are better able to review content than the editorial staff of paper mags? Or do they depend on the forums for "correction" of the formally submitted and published content? How much does it matter to the editors?

I ask this question because it seems to me that in both the paper mags and the on-line mags, the quality of editing leaves a lot to be desired. Poor grammar, typos, longwindedness, and muddled thinking abound. (Like this post!) It seems to me that the British mags are even worse than ours in quality of editing. I stopped subscribing to EFI because I didn't care for the garish style, the sloppiness, and for the reviews of products, few of which hit these shores. (I loved the old Aeromodeller, back in the 1950s, which makes me a fossil!)

I don't mean the poor stuff that shows up in the on-line forums. Forum responses are "off the top of the head," so to speak, so Jim Bourke and the moderators are really in no position to correct this stuff. (I'm as guilty of sloppy and longwinded posts as anyone.) I'm referring to the quality of the formal reviews, construction articles, etc. Please don't ask me to cite examples! Check for yourself.

A related question: Some of you have pointed out that the paper mags don't always (or can't always) check the validity of the info they publish. I can recall a controversy over some aerodynamic info the great Harold DeBolt published in Model Aviation some years back. And even Andy Lennon had an article questioned. But note that the controversy over their material took several months to work out. By comparison, if someone posts questionable info on this site, a lot of criticism is posted within a day, if not within hours or minutes. So the electronic publishing business is in a naturally better position to correct information via readers, though even sometimes the "corrections" need work! Nonetheless, it seems a "plus" for electronic publishing that info is presented quickly and "corrected" equally quickly. Paper mags can't match that.

There is a greater frankness of views in electronic publishing, which paper mags don't seem to want to match. There have been some rip-snorting complaints about certain vendors and products on this site, yet the vendors still have their banners on E-Zone. That suggests that the vendors (or most of them) are taking this info very seriously and consider the source of the complaints not to be E-Zone, but its readers, which is proper. And the vendors want, eventually, to keep the readers --their customers-- happy.

You don't see nearly so much frankness in the paper mags, whose editors seem to be much more concerned that complaints reflect badly on them, and that they, the editors, are at risk of losing advertisers.

Given all of the above, are the on-line magazines in a position to crowd out the paper magazines in a form of Darwinian natural selection, even though there are a lot of readers who don't have access to computers and who would lose out in learning about new products and developments in this hobby? Some of you have said the paper mags won't go away, that technology isn't universal enough to displace paper magazines. But the technology of the automobile displaced the horse and buggy, and it didn't take very long.

Jim Bourke and moderators, your thoughts, please.
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Old Mar 28, 2001, 11:15 PM
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Keremeos, BC, Canada
Joined Dec 1996
632 Posts
Great discussion... I just completed a model from Fairymuddler, copyright 1961, another from Air Trails ca 1950. Sure the storage for the last 50(!) years has been "a problem", but when I felt like it, the plan was there. And, recently I picked up an old diesel, and found the Engine Test for it. Often it is difficult to find info from 2 years ago for equipment bought new at the time; so much for permanence!
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