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noelsmith

Model Cars Magazine? Will it Survive?

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Digital or paper?  Model Cars Mag editor is adamant in their forum that digital is a website, not a magazine, so guess they are sticking to print. Yes, digital is far cheaper to put out than print, but there is an expectancy for massively reduced cost to the consumer as well! Last I heard is that they are no longer paying for articles, expecting freebies from wannabe article writers. Well I like to get paid for my efforts whether digital or printed. I would expect that there are a number of other article writers out there who feel the same as me. Good luck to those who write for free it they just want their name to get around. My own view is that commercial magazines exist to make a profit and freebie writers are just being taken advantage of. Going digital would probably mean having to greatly increase the subscriber base to cover the reduction in cost to the consumer just to maintain the current level of subscriber fees. Plus they would have to deal with a substantial number of accounts to process as a result. If they went digital, I do not think that they would gain the level of new subscribers to make it happen. Also I fear that many writers like me have already dropped away due to their non payment policy and will not be replaced easily. Their subscriber deliveries are still way out according to posts on their forum so they are having to survive on perhaps just a years subscriptions for two years. Not sure how this will stack up long term if subscribers start to drop away because of late deliveries. Recently a critical thread was removed from their forum where a number of posters voiced their opinions about the survivability of the magazine. Time will tell however!

Edited by noelsmith

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Noel, all publishing is cutthroat and brutal,  though it's probably more extreme in the specialist niches.  As for the editor of MCM insisting that the MCM forum is a website and not a webzine, he's splitting hairs.  Whether you call it a website, webzine, forum, blog or whatever, what you end up calling it depends on the specific content, format and what you decide to call it.  If MCM publishes what readers consider standalone articles on a somewhat regular frequency with the forum as part of the website, then it's a webzine that doesn't charge a fee.  If the preceding is true and he runs ads from manufacturers that are identified as sponsors, then he's running a sponsored webzine that is being supported by the fees the manufacturers are paying him.  If he's making enough from the sponsor fees that he's paying contributors for their articles, then.........  You see where this is going.  The nuances as to what you call his website are virtually endless.

In some respects, the internet actually works against those of us who write in the hobby/model field for a living.  Why?  Because most people expect anything they find on the internet to be free.  As a result, there's an automatic resistance to the idea of paying to access a website or buying content.  Build posts abound, ranging from very good to average and mediocre.  Does this mean those build posts shouldn't exist?  Not at all because all of us have something useful to say that others would find of value.  If you don't choose to buy something with a price on it, so be it.  That's certainly your choice.  But what I am saying is that none of us should EXPECT everything to be free.  Let that happen and some of the best material will never see the light of day, such as the articles you can/could produce if MCM would pay you for them.

 

Edited by ipmsusa2

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Richard, gone you have made very valid points about the internet and specialist websites in your last reply and agree with your observations. Can I clarify something that may have been misinterpreted from my last post. The editor of Model Cars Mag was referring to the magazine being a website and not a magazine if it went digital and was not referring to their forum in any way. The latter part of your last post only goes to confirm the expectation of stuff for free off the web. If Model Cars Mag went digital I fear that the uptake may not be enough to sustain it unfortunately. They are struggling enough now and relying on the faithful just to keep their head above water to get the printed version out. I agree that digital is the way things are going, but call me a luddite if you like as I like a paper magazine or book to read rather than downloading stuff onto a tablet that eventually has to be deleted.

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Noel,  you may as well call me a semi-luddite.  I've been reading since I was three years old and on an adult or near adult level since I was six.  There's nothing I like better than the feel of a real book in my hands while I kick back and read while turning each page.  The tactile interaction creates a bonding with the subject of the book, be it non-fiction, fiction or reference, that no tablet, computer or smart phone will ever match.  At the same time, it has now reached the point that it is now impossible to make a living in the area I deal with without being immersed in the digital world.  If you refer to the good old days of print books and magazines, those who have grown up with digital toys virtually from birth will have one response: That's progress.  They're right, of course, but they forget that not all progress is good or that there is room for both the old and the new.

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On 4/30/2018 at 11:39 AM, ipmsusa2 said:

Robin, you're correct with your observation about the wider distribution of car, truck and star wars kits.  At the same time, notice that the higher dollar, higher skill, dedicated modeler kits in those categories are generally missing.  Another factor is the lower cost that they manage to negotiate with kit manufacturers/distributors.  For example, if you bother to print out a coupon, you can generally get any model kit from Hobby Lobby for 40% off and Michael's will also honor Hobby Lobby coupons, though they don't advertise the fact.  Now what's going to happen with the kit mix at Hobby Lobby with the demise of Revell/Monogram is going to be interesting.

Another factor affecting the wider availability of car/truck kits at stores like Hobby Lobby and Walmart is the even wider availability of toy cars  that are available is some form for virtually every age group starting at birth.  That has a lot to with why so many people describe what we modelbuilders do as "playing with toys".

 

 

If you get on Michael's email list, they send you 40% off coupons almost daily, and some days it is 50%, 60% or even 70% off coupons. I just use the text to phone option. Yes, I would call the level of kits found in Michael's and Hobby Lobby (automotive), not at the same high tech level as many armor kits manufactured today, but on par with what limited armor kits that they do carry. Hobby Lobby used to carry high end Dragon kits. Still have many of the great deals I got with the 40% off coupon.

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Richard, I would heartedly agree with all you said in your last post, and it looks as though we both sing from th same hymn sheet. There is something more tactile about print as opposed to digital. Like many others, we have also embraced the digital realm via the web on forums such as this one and for  looking up info, so enjoy the best of both worlds. With regard to Model Cars Magazine itself, the way they are going at present does not exactly inspire confidence for those faithful subscribers out there who wait patiently for their magazine to arrive. If they cannot get a handle on their schedule, eventually their subscribers will go elsewhere. There are two other car modelling magazines they can easily go to, Scale Auto and Model Car Builder, both excellent magazines in their own right. Scale Auto now has a new editorial team on board with many new ideas and a fresh approach. In view of this competition unfortunately I can see Model Cars Magazine becoming a casualty. Like you said Richard, specialist model publishing is a cut throat business, and Model Cars Magazine may fall by the wayside if they cannot sort themselves out.

Edited by noelsmith
Typo errors.

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Further to my last post two ex writers for Model Cars Magazine have contacted me directly  to both to empathise with my situation, and to say how poorly they have also been treated by Model Cars Magazine. One of them mentioned that the truck modelling column by Tim Ahlborn has suddenly disappeared from the magazine with no explanation. Perhaps just another writer getting frustrated with writing for no reward and giving up on MC Mag? The frustrated writers that I know of could well be the tip of the iceberg regarding the number who may have also given up on MC Mag. I believe that they now cheap skate and do not pay writers fees. What with not paying their writers any more and the punters who subscribe being let down by ever late deliveries of the magazine is simply creating a toxic mix.  Writers will go elsewhere and subscribers will gradually drop away as they get frustrated with the lame excuses and  poor service that they have paid up front for. Cannot understand why do many subscribers have remained as faithful as they have up to now given the wholly inadequate service they are getting from a commercial business! Unfortunately it appears that the writing is on the wall for Model Cars Magazine and it will probably soon go under! Bob Turner did the math in a controversial thread on MCMags own forum and I note the thread has since  been deleted!

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Noel, I hate to agree, but your analysis in your last post is absolutely correct.  At this point, I would suggest that the only thing left for MCM is to shovel the dirt into the grave.  While it is true that many, many magazines...both web and print...do not pay anything, those who write for them know it going in.  Transitioning from a paying publication to a non-paying one is not only difficult...bordering on the impossible...but requires being up front with both your writers and readers.  it also means you will have a different stable of writers who can afford to write for the sheer joy of writing or simply seeing their name in lights, so to speak.

As for the thread you refer to being deleted, that is one of the advantages/disadvantages of forum threads..  Depending on your level of ethics, you can be honest and let all posts fall where they may, or you can limit all comments to those that are glowing and positive to leave the impression that everything is wonderful and you never have a problem.  While it's true that some posts need to be removed...they're either spam that snuck in or contain offensive comments that do no one any good, limiting all posts to those that are totally positive or show you as someone that is perfect is a guarantee that readers will eventually ignore even the forum site.

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Richard, I guess that the airing of anything controversial and critical of Model Cars Mag on their forum gets deleted. Unfortunately they do not appear to condone the idea of free speech when it ruffles a few of their feathers. If they are unable to accept criticism, provided it is factual and  within the bounds of forum etiquette, and gag free speech, then it only indicates how insecure they must be.

Writing for love of glory?  They well may get some new writers on board, but for now long? It takes a lot of time and effort to put a good magazine article together. My guess is that there will be some dabblers out there who will test he water and as soon as they get their name known for glory will quickly move on to a more remunerative outlet for their efforts. I think they will struggle to replace the regular quality article writers they are losing hand over fist.

Bob Turner spelled out the doom of Model Cars Magazine by the logic shown in his mathematical analysis of their business plan, now unfortunately deleted from their forum. Have  to agree that Model Cars Magazine looks to be doomed!

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Those writers who are satisfied to write for the joy of writing or seeing their name in print tend to fall into one of two categories.  They have a full time job and their writing is literally a hobby.  This despite the fact that much of their writing is good enough to be paid for.  The flip side are those who think that they are good writers but really aren't.  It's this second group that will likely fill the gap that professional writers (we who get paid for our work) leave  publications like MCM.  While MCM may...and I stress MAY...find writers to provide the content they need for free, I would suggest the quality of the articles will tend to go rather steeply downhill.

 

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Richard, Your description of the two types of writer is pretty much on the button. In my case I suppose that I could sort of describe myself within a third category as a semi professional when it comes to writing. I enjoy writing about my model building and sharing my experiences, having done it irregularly for years for different magazines, but as an enjoyable adjunct to my full time engineering profession. But however, I would never ever write for free! Certainly there were times when I thought about becoming a full time writer, but after due consideration decided that it would have been too much of a risk.

Model Cars Magazine may well find a few freebie 'think they are good' writers to fill a gap short term, but like you say if the quality of their writing is that poor I can only see it hastening the demise of MCM. That is if their subscribers don't pull the plug first due to their extremely poor deliveries and stop subscribing. It is so far behind now that it is a joke! Only a matter of time before before the subscribers have had enough of the sympathy seeking and lame excuses for ever late deliveries from what is purporting to be a professional commercial magazine. If they have not already, they will soon defect to Scale Auto and Model Car Builder Magazines.

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Not had a Model Cars Magazine since 2016, but from what I have heard the subscriber deliveries are still way, say behind. Some of their EX WRITERS have been in contact with me privately to air their views about MCM's hierarchy that did not make good reading.

Is Model Cars Magazine still hanging on by the skin of it's teeth or has it already foundered? I read on some other forum that they could not be contacted as their own website had been shut down, although their forum is still up and running.

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On their website the Big Kahuna has spoken!        But for now much longer?

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