Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Not good news


The Royal Mail has been allowed (by a rather weak regulator) to increase its charges. As a result, all basic postage costs will go up at the end of this month by a relatively huge amount. A large letter (i.e. ST size) sent by second class post will cost 69p instead of 58p. As it happens ST is over the standard letter limit of 100g (it's about 150g) so each issue will cost me over a pound to send to a UK subscriber. A similar increase will apply to overseas postage, which is via surface mail. (Air Mail is very pricey and not especially reliable.) 


Put in perspective, the cost of posting the magazine accounts for roughly one third of all costs i.e. printing ST, getting it delivered to me, buying the envelopes I put it in. Other costs are also rising, but it's postage that seems set to keep rising, year on year, for quite a while.

I can't see any way to keep ST going other than by increasing subscription costs. I realise this will lose a few people, and that's perfectly reasonable. Everyone has different circumstances and not everyone can treat a magazine subscription as a minor indulgence. I know I can't.

#1.jpgThere is an alternative. I could retain the current subscription but reduce the size and quality of the magazine to roughly where it was when it started i.e. a stapled booklet with card covers, running to maybe 75 pages. This would be much like the old Ghosts & Scholars magazine, of fond memory. I could even include the same amount of fiction by the simple expedient of reducing the font size (never a popular move, I know).

What do you think? Keep it as it is but increase the subs to around £16 for the UK and £20 overseas? Or make it a cheap 'n' cheerful production?


14 comments:

James Everington said...

Me personally I'd say keep as is and increase subs.

Would you consider getting some extra £s by also publishing an ebook version, or is that not something you're into?

Adam Golaski said...

Raise the price in order to maintain the standard you've reached and so you can keep pushing toward a more beautiful book (that will be worth the price to readers).

OR, if you go to "cheap and cheerful" make sure it's as handsome as Ghosts & Scholars or as some of the Swan River Press stuff Brian Showers does--that is, pay attention to paper stock, use cream or gray, consider stitching rather than staples, toss in some vellum for good measure.

Don't reduce the point size. Less is more in terms of stories published, not in terms of text size!

valdemar said...

Thanks, Adam and James. I think the standard of ST at the moment is pretty good, in terms of form and content. Logic tells me to put the price up, because it's been stable for years now. That's the way I'm inclined to go, unless I come up with a More Cunning Plan.

Sam said...

I would vote for increasing the price and maintaining the quality.

Jim Rockhill said...

I agree with increasing the price in order to maintain quality. Jim Rockhill

Jim Rockhill said...

I agree. If necessary, please increase the price rather than sacrifice quality, Jim

Jim Rockhill said...

I agree with increasing the price in order to maintain quality. Jim Rockhill

Kimberly Yerina said...

I would have to vote for increasing the price in order to keep the current quality. I just renewed my subscription (overseas) last week, and would be willing to pay the necessary increase to see ST continue on as always.
Kimberly

Simon Strantzas said...

I'm trying to figure out if Jim thinks you should increase the price to maintain quality. I'm still not sure.

But, if so, then I agree.

valdemar said...

Thanks, everyone, I think a consensus is forming around me sacrificing a chicken to Lucifer, then increasing the price to maintain quality.

valdemar said...

I just put that bit about the chicken in to see if it causes a spike in traffic.

Todd T said...

I would indeed like you to sacrifice a chicken, but do pay attention to quality.

One more vote here for maintaining your quality and font size and charging more. But I will still subscribe if you need to make a different choice.

aalford said...

If it's not too late to weigh in on this, I don't find anything wrong with "cheap and cheerful" ... especially if the font size is still reader-friendly. I haven't enjoyed magazines like Flytrap or LCRW any less because they weren't as "slick" as other mags.

But I confess I do like the current format of ST. It's quite a handsome magazine. The raised price would not deter me from re-subscribing; and the higher quality makes it easier to keep long term.

With respect to the Kindle version, I did notice that at least in issue 19, I was unable to navigate story-to-story via the directional pad. This is a big deal to me, as having only the table of contents and one-at-a-time pagination makes for a rather linear reading experience. As long as printing & postage costs are increasing, and you are looking to keep ST alive, whatever the venue, I would look into that.

Just my two cents. And long live ST!!

valdemar said...

Thanks again for comments, guys. The main problem I see is that prices of printing, delivery (i.e. getting ST to me) and postage will increase sharply year-on-year. This will force me to put prices up every year or two and I think this will lose readers, of whom ST currently has less than a hundred anyway.