Shrinking Model Railroader Magazine - Re-visted

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CNJ999
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Joined: Mon Feb 07, 2005 9:20 am

Shrinking Model Railroader Magazine - Re-visted

Post by CNJ999 » Mon Dec 17, 2018 11:59 am

As I noted just about one year ago, MR has been showing a consistent decline in circulation for better than twenty years now. The January 2019 issue, listing an accounting of the magazine's readership/circulation only reinforces evidence of this disturbing, long enduring, slide. The number of subscribers to the magazine's hard copy version amounted to only 81,000 issues monthly in 2018, while newsstand sales only added an insipid 13,000 further copies per month to the total averaging a bit over a 94,000 copies going to readers. Surprisingly, Kalmbach continues to print vastly more copies than it has hopes of selling amounting to some 136,000 copies monthly. So, upwards of 40,000 copies go unsold and presumably are returned EVERY MONTH ! This is something I hardly think is justifiable given that the popularity of the publication is clearly ebbing as times and interest in hobbies change. The on-line electronic version of the magazine appears to simply never have really taken off with any gusto and still totals less than 10,000 electronic mailings per month.

I would add that as a longtime reader of MR I have been particularly disappointed with their December issues weak content. Years back the Christmas issue of MR was always the magazine's premier installment, one every hobbyist looked forward to annually with great anticipation. This December's MR bore no difference from any other of this year's monthly copies and I had already tossed it aside after less than half an hour of perusal. The January 2019 issue I took to be much superior to the December copy in its content, but it was, of course, an anniversary issue. Traditionally anniversary issues have been particularly impressive. I only wish more in the way of in-depth discussion had been offered this year concerning the magazine's and the hobby's past.

I still hold out only faint hopes of seeing MR pull itself out of the doldrums during 2019, but I fear that the only chance for that happening would be a major shake-up in staff. Unless I can obtain one of the super-discounted subscriptions later this year, I don't think that I'll continue with MR any further...after nearly half a century.

CNJ999

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Re: Shrinking Model Railroader Magazine - Re-visted

Post by umtrr-author » Mon Dec 17, 2018 1:38 pm

Somehow I was granted access to the online version of the January 2019 issue of MR -- their 85th Anniversary issue -- prior to the hard copy arriving in my mailbox. There was also a free download of the first issue of MR, January 1934.

Hate to say it, but I was rather underwhelmed. 98 pages total. The last look at the Ohio Southern was interesting, Jim Kelly's take on the Atlas First Generation N Scale 94 Foot Tank Car (the "rail whale") was snarky, and I can't remember anything else.

Sigh.
George in Rochester NY
The Unofficial Micro-Trains Release Report (among other things)

CNJ999
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Joined: Mon Feb 07, 2005 9:20 am

Re: Shrinking Model Railroader Magazine - Re-visted

Post by CNJ999 » Tue Dec 18, 2018 10:47 am

You are right, George, I regarded the January 2019 MR better only in contrast to the truly disappointing December installment. Like you and as somewhat of a hobby historian myself, I found piece on the Ohio Southern, the first "double deck" designed pike following a John Armstrong idea (who was uncertain it was actually practical!) an interesting read. The too brief article on Al Kalmback's early locos and cars also grabbed my attention, my dad having been an HO modeler back in the late 30's. However, in the era of MR's true greatness an anniversary issue article of this sort would have been a much expanded feature version of the topic covering a number of the hobby's early pioneers equipment.

Short of those two articles, nothing in the January issue attracted my attention. The new project layout's design is boring in my opinion, even as a beginner's project. At the same time, Steve Otte's "20 Innovations That Changed (note past tense)The Hobby" I feel got a little ahead of itself with its last two entries concerning 3-D printing and "Dead rail". At best, these innovations are years from becoming main stream in the hobby. And the latter was anticipated to be "just-around-the-corner" decades ago as noted in one of MR's anniversary issues and is still a distant dream in scales HO and below today. I even have my doubts about the true greatness of DCC. Now I know a lot of hobbyists rave over it and gloss over its complexities, but I regularly operate on a friend's large DCC home layout - the electronics of which having been put in by a supposed DCC expert - and for 5 years now we haven't had a session without a system's glitch shutting things down for a interval. As a result, I canceled my own plans to switch over and am very happy with my DC layout.

CNJ999

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