FOGGY MOUNTAIN DITTY
Just as there is talk these days about the fog of war, the business of providing information (particularly though monthly magazines) exists in what can be called the fog of publishing. I currently subscribe to at least 20 non-magic magazines. I read almost every magic publication in the world and Ive been involved in several over the years. The most significant force that is effecting and will continue to effect magazines is the Internet and the rising cost of dissemination. As far as Im concerned, the topical info is ably covered by the Internet (Blogs, bulletin boards, forums, and so on). This will increase and get better. Unfortunately, in the magic world, the mags are understaffed. They are cottage industries or one-man operations, and it's a Herculean task to service such enterprises. (Im still incredulous that Meir Yedid was able to crank out Magic Times for as long as he did! What a guy! It remains to be seen if anyone will soon fill that void.)
I suppose its irresistible to compare magazines and to cavil about this and that; however, I think there is much to applaud out there.
RK and I both have struggled with the challenge of getting new and interesting tricks and ideas to fill columns. The brutal fact is that there are only so many new, good, and interesting ideas generated each year. If you publish four items monthly, one must try to ferret out over 70 tricks. When I did Inside Out I wrote up over 432 tricks and Earle Oakes probably drew over 3500 drawings. Looking back, the percentage of enduring keepers or workers is low. I told Josh that the task gets harder and harder after the third or fourth year. (Also, few magicians older than 50 are desperately looking for new tricks and innovative methods. Most of them are instead looking back, not looking forward. Granted: There are exceptionsJerry Andrus, for examplebut most are not rabid consumers.)
Getting and creating stories are another matter. Much depends on how glossy and superficial one permits each treatment or piece to be, especially when facing deadlines and fighting the speed of the Internet.
As far as Im concerned, for snail-mail magazines to survive, they must provide deeper analysis, broader or more focused coverage, and do what books can and films and television cannot. I hope that consumers (investors) continue to support our efforts. Without sufficient monies, the incentive evaporates. Who then would fill the void? Perhaps in the future there will only be Blogshundreds to surf, browse, and freely download the spoils? Then the cabal of collectors will trade, buy, and sell the magazines of yesteryear, lamenting their demise and admiring their quaintness anda-heminsufficiencies.