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  • Editorial by Robert R. Longo

    Prototype Modeler - December 1978 - Page 5

    A subject that seems to come up quite often in the model railroad and rail fan hobbies is that of the apparent high cost of some of the limited interest publications. It seems to me that a review of this kind of thing might better help all of us under stand this situation.

    First off, what do I mean when I talk about limited interest pUblications? Though there are other types, I am basically talking about the technical and historical societies. It makes little difference whether we discuss the Boston and Maine Technical & Historical Society, the Santa Fe Modelers Organization, or the Frisco Modelers' Information Group, the general situation is the same and applies equally well.

    These groups usually start out as a small group of acquaintances with a common interest in a particular road and a "newsletter" is generated to "share" information. As time goes by, others learn about the group and want to "join" so they can also gain in the "sharing" of information. Of course, one of the problems that first arises is that there are soon some 50 plus "members" involved but there are woefully few who are doing the "sharing" and woefully many who are doing the "getting" and do nothing to support the effort other than to supply some postage money and help with the print ing bill. Those who do all the''work'' and all the "sharing" wind up with little except having to give up much of their hobby time to "work" with the group.

    It is natural that the fellow who sends in his $10. or what have you "expects" to get something in return for his money and in his mind he has a "right" to get information since it is something he has paid for. On the other hand, who has the "obligation" to give it to him? The fellow who gets nothing but the chance to work hard for no pay and give up much of his hobby time to boot? If not him, then who? Without question, the answer has to be no one has such an obligation; the whole effort has to be a "shared" one and the fellow who only pays his "dues" has to recognize that he is getting one heck of a lot of information for an amount that is way below the actual cost in time and effort. I am reminded that a pUblication called Business Monthly is issued once each month; it is 12 pages long; typewritten; no photos; no color; and arrives via 3rd class mail. That is generally less that what the average historical or modelers group issues either bi-monthly or quarterly. At the end of a year these would probably come out even or maybe the rail oriented group might have a couple of extra pages. We all recognize that the business publication would have a much higher circulation just be cause of its general interest and the higher the circulation the lower the per issue cost. We probably can all generally understand and agree thus far. The big difference, though, comes in the subscription price. I'd wager that many would feel that the business publication would probably run around $10. in cost but because of its much wider circulation would probably be a money maker. Well, I would agree that it is probably a money maker because that is why it is probably published in the first place. Where the hooker comes is in the cost. It is $36. per year! Wow! $36. per annum ! And I'd also wager that no one is making a big buck either. Were the same rules to apply to rail group publications their lower circulation would demand at least a $50. per year price tag and probably significantly more.

    An isolated case? Try this one for size. A publication called the Small Business Report is also published monthly; has 28 pages; printed on slick paper; still no photos; still no color; mailed via 2nd class mail (even slower); professionally done with type setting, etc. Sound a little more like what we get in some cases? Or at least what we'd like to get. This one goes for $48. per year and has even higher circulation than the first publication. Convert this to rail group coverage and you'd have to attach a $75. price tag at rock bottom and probably something more like $99. per annum! A little on the steep side isn't it?

    Why, then, or how, then, can the modeling or fan groups publish so cheap. Because all do it with free labor through a really dedicated sense of helping each other. The problem becomes that sooner or later everyone gets fed up with all this work and no appreciation for their efforts so they quit and in most cases the group folds. In the last ten years I've seen over 40 groups come and most of them go; less than five are still active. For those of you who are "members" of these groups, appreciate what you are getting - I'll personally guarantee that it is one of the biggest bargains you will ever receive - and if you can, drop the group a line and let them know you appreciate, their efforts on your behalf..... and, if you can, help them, everyone will benefit!

    Article Details

    • Original Author Robert R. Longo
    • Source Prototype Modeler
    • Publication Date December 1978

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