Letters Down with Digital . Tactic Performance
Going Digital: Against... NO NO NO, please no to the suggestion to move to digital only for A to B. Maybe we are Luddites but there are a great many of us to whom the printed page is very important. The feel, the texture, the smell, the sight of the printed page, plus of course the colour, is not replaceable with something on a flickering screen. Please don’t do it, even if in time you may be forced the review the cost. A reader of many years.
Chris Cade Cade Street, East Sussex ... Going Digital: quite a horrible thought. I can’t bear to think of the possibility. However, it all seems inevitable because of the way costs are going. I have been a loyal reader of The Guardian for years (decades actually) but have stopped buying it since the New Year when the paper shrunk hugely in content with most of the interesting articles now on-line only. Well, at least that’s still free, but probably not for very much longer. I go to their web site only very infrequently for a brief, listless wander around.
I have given up reading most magazines. I used to buy a variety such as New Scientist, photo, cycling or railway magazines now and again, plus The Oldie. But I have given them all up because they cost the best part of £4 a time. So I can see the problems facing the printed media. One solution is to learn to scan-read and call in at W H Smiths occasionally. This practice may become widespread, so it adds to the problem and is therefore self-defeating.
I receive several on-line newsletters from various organisations, but to be honest I rarely read them, as the information that comes from screens is overwhelming: it all makes your eyes and brain go screwy after a while. The only newsletter I do look at is the CTC weekly digest, which usually has several links to other sites of interest, but I don’t go to these places as there’s never time, and by then I’ve gone screen brain-dead. Besides, without a very fast broadband connection, there’s always frustrating waits for photos to download, and the video links forever seem to freeze. So I’m probably missing out. But then, what you don’t know about, you don’t miss.
If A to B went digital, I would miss it a great deal, but it probably would have to be goodbye after all these years, since issue one of The Folder, in fact.Would I make an exception for A to B? I’d like to think so, but I fear not, because it would be yet another of those ephemeral items competing for attention, flicked through on screen at some late hour, to be forever forgotten, rather than that put in a little stack of A5’s on the bookcase to be consulted occasionally, especially for some inspired technical solution (eg taking a SA 5-speed hub apart or making a spring-loaded Brompton hinge).
As Woody Allen put it: ‘Down one road lies disaster, down the other lies utter catastrophe. Let’s hope we have the wisdom to choose correctly.’
Malcolm Mort, Liskeard, Cornwall ... Thanks for the warning. I’m happy to renew now, but very unlikely to continue a sub if you go digital.
David Edwards, Llanelli, Dyfed www.atob.org.uk
A to B 89 Apr 12 ... Oh dear, not another digital magazine! No, I wouldn’t renew if A to B went digital. I like having something I can read on the train to work, that doesn’t cost the earth, take time to start, run out of juice or get nicked. It’s sad, as A to B is one of the best-written magazines I get, but once it goes digital-only I shall drop it, as I suspect will many others. My experience with other organisations trying to save money by abandoning print is that subscriber numbers will plummet.
Dave Burbridge, Purley, Surrey ... With reference to ‘Future Speak’, A to B 88. Oh dear! I would abandon the magazine if it was published in digital form. I don’t own a computer or other electronic/digital thingies, nor shall I. So no paper magazine, no sub. I would however, be prepared to pay a tad more for a paper magazine.
Nick Buchanan, Thorverton, Exeter ... On the issue of going digital, I probably would not continue subscribing to your magazine. I have a Kindle but don’t enjoy using it as much as a proper book. I would be prepared to pay something extra to keep receiving a paper copy of the magazine however.
Incidentally, can Derek Cranage let everyone know who is the supplier of the springs he uses for his Brompton hinge mod in A to B 88? (See page 9, Ed)
John Burnett, via email ... Here’s my head-on response. If you cease printing I will no longer subscribe. Today the magazine stays around the house to be picked up, sampled, read from cover to cover and mostly kept so that adverts can be consulted when needed. Once your esteemed publication is available only on a machine, which has to be switched on before anything can be viewed, it will lose its appeal and usefulness. Circulating a publication by electronic means might cut costs, but so would omitting the illustrations; either would reduce the value to readers and advertisers by an unacceptable amount. I’m an A to B reader since at least the last Ice Age.
P.S. Pleased to see that you have joined the future by incorporating the phrase ‘any time soon’. (Believed to have originated in North America). How about incorporating the phrases ‘working closely’, ‘raising awareness’, and other jewels from the local government PR lexicon?
Michael Ocock, Oxfordshire ... As editor of a club cycling magazine, I can empathise with your dilemma over the printing vs digital argument, but I find it strange that you are unsure why the sister magazine Miniature Railway is bucking the trend and experiencing increasing print sales.
I believe that you have answered your own question, ‘MR does have a rather older readership.’ The ‘40 Plus Cycling Club’ (www.fortypluscc.co.uk/) has, as the title implies, a membership comprising riders aged 40 and over, but in fact substantially higher.
We produce both a printed and electronic version of our magazine Signpost, but the take up for the electronic version is less than 6%, with just under 3% taking both.
Computer usage is less prevalent among an older readership, and the cost of buying into the electronic option is sometimes beyond one’s means (many pensioners would baulk at the price of buying an IPAD or Kindle simply to read books or magazines). There are sometimes advantages, eg the ability to magnify an article as one’s eyesight deteriorates - a problem common in older age - but it is rarely sufficient to justify the expense.
I suspect that A to B subscribers are significantly younger, but I think you will lose readers if you proceed. A difficult decision that will be faced by many in the coming years. Finally, there are many who simply like the feel of a magazine in the hand.There is still something special about well crafted magazines, such as yours, that bring pleasure to one’s reading.
Colin Major, Shoreham-by-Sea,West Sussex www.atob.org.uk
A to B 89 Apr 12