The Post Office has Gone Insane: THERE IS NO MORE SURFACE MAIL TO OVERSEAS

Discuss general aspects of Genii.

Postby Guest » 05/26/07 07:38 AM

Presumably the cost of printing each issue is A + (B x N), where A and B are fixed amounts and N is the number of copies being printed. Thus printing 100000 copies is cheaper (per copy) than printing 1000 copies, since the value of A is "shared" over more copies.
I ran this by a friend of mine who owns a printing company. He agrees but also says assuming there is still a significant number of magazines being printed that the actual difference per print is not that great and it is more the cost of initial setup and labor which plays the most important factor...The math on that part is clear.
However, at the same time what you lose on the printing costs dont you also recuperate on shipping, storage, transportation etc? I imagine those total costs are much higher in per unit cost than printing. Is it enough to go pdf? I guess that is a question Richard must ponder...But remember that there is already another problem immediately on the table which is how to handle the change in postal delivery to foreign subscribers. Who will eat those cost? How will the new delivery change my being able to receive a magazine in a timely fashion? Will that cost later be past on to me in the form of higher subscription cost? Are there other magic magazines going digital, if so what are they charging for digital format to their subscribers and how will that play out in terms of competition? Being one of those GENII subscribers based in Italy, I would readily pay for pdf format for several reasons. First and foremost, I wouldnt have to wait for a hardcopy issue to arrive 3 to 4 weeks after its US distribution like now. Sometimes wondering if it will ever arrive at all. Next I would not necessarily be adverse if extra advertisement were placed in pdf as this would have no effect on my shelf space.Perhaps this increase in pdf advertising could offset the increase in per unit hardcopy printing costs. Finally, I imagine as GENII is already a well established publication,if done properly and with the right copy protection in place and marketing, there could be actually an increase worldwide distribution without the worry of fluctuation in exchange rates, logistic and transportation costs, changing postal rates. etc. As a side thought, depending on what country the file is physically being sent or downloaded from(servers)would also have an immediate impact regarding taxes on profit. And if done from the right countries ,little or no taxes at all ;)

Finally I do also like the suggestion of printing and mailing outside of US therefore bypassing the instability of US postal rates altogether but there again you still run the same risks and perhaps even greater than you do operating in US.

Just a thought.
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Postby Guest » 05/26/07 12:20 PM

The day Genii goes only digital is the day I cancel my subscription.
I also prefer the printed version over PDF........but if it were the only way for Genii to survive, I would continue subscribing to a digital version, as I still want access to the great articles.....especially the in-depth historical articles. Few publishers have the rare combination of passion and knowledge that makes Genii a real treat.

Let's support it, come what may!
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Postby Guest » 05/26/07 02:11 PM

Richard - can you explain to me why that is, please? Surely if you charge the same for both versions it would not matter which you sold? This is why I argued for PDF versions of Genii in that other thread - am I missing something, though?

Bob
Bob - it's a question of economies of scale. It's cheaper to print larger runs. For a shorter run, the set up costs would be very high. In other words, if the print run was halved because 50% of people wanted the pdf, it might make it economically non-viable for Richard to bother with the print run.

Richard - is that what you meant? Correct me if I'm wrong.

Joe E. Pike
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 05/26/07 02:42 PM

This thread is not a debate about the issues of whether Genii is going to become a digital magazine available as a pdf--it isn't, and that's the end of that discussion.

Regarding the number of copies printed, any short-run text book printer or magazine printer (and those are the types of printers being used by my companies) will tell you that the number of copies printed does indeed change the price per unit. More copies printed equals a small price per unit.
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Postby Guest » 05/26/07 03:21 PM

Richard, I absolutely accept your position on the pdf decision...that is ok with me.
But just for the sake of arguement...Despite the drop off of those not wanting digital, wouldnt it still be at that point more profitable to just go ONLY digital? No printing costs. No mailing cost. etc. etc.
Only asking to understand the business side of things not to debate if pdf is coming.Thanks for your insight.
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Postby Dustin Stinett » 05/26/07 03:32 PM

I will answer this one for Richard, using his words (so he doesn't have to say it twice):

This thread is not a debate about the issues of whether Genii is going to become a digital magazine available as a pdf--it isn't, and that's the end of that discussion.
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Postby Mark Collier » 05/26/07 03:46 PM

I hate to advocate outsourcing but I wonder if it would ever reach a point where it would make economic sense to print U.S. copies domestically and overseas copies in a country with favorable postage rates.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 05/26/07 04:04 PM

The problem with parts of the run in different locations is that each print run becomes more expensive because fewer copies are being printed.

In addition, in Europe it is far more expensive to print than it is in the US.
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Postby Guest » 05/26/07 06:02 PM

When my younger son was publishing his Newgrave Magazine, he had it printed in Thailand. He found that it was cheaper to have it printed there and shipped to San Pedro, California than to have it printed in the US. There was a huge price difference for the same quality of work. It did cost him more to have the boxes of magazines shipped from San Pedro to his place on Melrose Ave. in Hollywood than it cost to have them shipped from Thailand to the US! For the issues that went to distributors, he hand delivered the boxes to the distribution warehouses to keep costs way down. The people ordering individually had to pay for individual magazine shipments - and this was not inexpensive at the time. The cheapest way to buy the magazines for the end customer was to pick them up from a magazine distributor as they did not charge for shipping. Overseas orders were always the hardest hit for shipping and with the new rates, things are even more costly. I do not see these costs going away nor getting cheaper.

I suggest that a possible way to cut shipping costs would be to ship in bulk (already addressed magazines) to distribution points in Europe, Japan, etc. from which the magazines could be posted at local rates rather than international rates. There are freight forwarders who are always looking for partial container loads to fill containers. There can often be some favorable air shipping rates found through these types of freight forwarders also. Someone is always trying to fill a container or airplane to make things cost effective. I have found that at times it is as cheap or cheaper to ship a large machine by air as it is by land. Magazines end up being as heavy as machinery and are less fragile to ship. There are many variables to be considered and new shipping connections to be researched and established. Richard, this option to possibly control shipping costs might be worth investigating.
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Postby Guest » 05/26/07 10:06 PM

Jim,

I used freight forwarders years ago who shipped from Belgium to Europe. I've passed this on to Richard already. It was far more cost effective. In fact, the freight forwarder always chose the European country that had the cheapest postal rates at that time. I never had a problem, the bag was picked up in the afternoon and within 24 hours my small journal was in the proper European mail systems to my foreign subscribers.
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Postby Guest » 05/26/07 11:29 PM

David;
I started using freight forwarders in 1975 for certain types of shipping requirements. For something like a subscription magazine, this is a very viable option for cutting shipping costs dramatically. I am not surprised that you also found such services cost effective. Bob Sanders knows quite a bit about import/export and might be able to add to this discussion.
Jim
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Postby Guest » 05/27/07 12:18 AM

In addition, in Europe it is far more expensive to print than it is in the US.
Not always. Especially the newer EU countries can produce at a fraction of the cost all the while maintaining quality. The problem at the moment for a US company would be the exchange rate. This would be offset by lower shipping costs.

Out of curiosity... What are the European subscription numbers and does the postal change really represent a serious concern in terms of numbers?
Richard, will the postal change as it stands at the moment immediately affect the arrive time of my subscription?

I will answer this one for Richard, using his words (so he doesn't have to say it twice):

quote:
This thread is not a debate about the issues of whether Genii is going to become a digital magazine available as a pdf--it isn't, and that's the end of that discussion.
Dustin, with respect, that wasnt my question. I am not a publisher and have no knowlegde of the field. My question is only intended to get thoughts from a publisher's view at what point does economics or other factors come into play in this type of modern day decision making when also faced with current e-book/magazine types of publishing...Thanks again for your insight.
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Postby Dustin Stinett » 05/27/07 01:20 AM

And if Richard answers your question, it opens the door to a debate on a subject he does not want to debate. You said it yourself: But just for the sake of argument and then posed a question clearly aimed at Genii going digital: Despite the drop off of those not wanting digital, wouldnt [sic] it still be at that point more profitable to just go ONLY digital? Your qualifier, Only asking to understand the business side of things is moot because Richard does not want to discuss it here. Please drop it.
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Postby Guest » 05/27/07 03:58 AM

As the problem is general,would it be the case to have a meeting and to decide for a common method of"defence"against the new rules with other magic(at least)publishers(TLR,etc.).
This could build a"defense wall" and find the right way out.

Alessandro.
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Postby Guest » 05/27/07 01:58 PM

Is everyone a lawyer in here?

Anyway, Ill let it go.

As a paying foreign subscriber, however, any response to my questions which DO directly affect my foreign subscription would be appreciated? As the topic gives notice to a problem, perhaps a notice of solution or possible solutions would be in order as well if one is already available. If Richard is not the right source, Id be happy if youd answer those as well Dusten. If you perfer not to put it here, send me a PM.

Thanks again. :)

I understand the problem... so let me put it in simplier terms...How does this change immediately effect me?! What is the remedy?
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Postby Guest » 05/27/07 02:42 PM

If I may bring this discussion onto another road.
Last night I purchased a magazine at my local book store for the sum of $11.95 Canadian. Reading this thread I realised that I get Genii for (I believe) around $8.50 Canadian from my local magic dealer.
So while I may not be able to assist in changing the USPS's mind, I can say that I will still support Genii after this price increase is passed along to the consumer.
I would also hope that others outside of the U.S. voice their continued support for this fine publication in these troubling financial times.
Come on people, show Richard some love!!!

Gord
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Postby Ian Kendall » 05/27/07 02:44 PM

It seems that only surface mail has been axed? In that case, if you get your copy by airmail, there should be no difference in the timings. However, if you recieve your copies by surface mail yet are concerned about recieving your issues in a timely fashion, it may be time to look at upgrading your postage version.

Take care, Ian
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Postby Guest » 05/27/07 05:57 PM

This is a site put together by independent magazines and FreePress to organize opposition to the rate hike. It has background information and press coverage. Check out the site and send the form e-mail letter to your congress representative and the US Postal Service opposing the rate hike.

It'll take less than a minute to help out.

http://action.freepress.net/freepress/p ... ation.html
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Postby Guest » 05/28/07 04:39 AM

I actually received notification of the changes weeks before they came into effect.

The USPS did tell those it was able to about the changes. However, if you weren't signed up for the right e-mailings then you might not have known about it in time. But since the changes were known about ahead of time, you should have thoroughly read up about it as much as you could have since almost 100% of your business depends on it.

I'll still buy Genii even if it's more expensive, but I'd also listen to some of the people here. Freight forwarding where possible could save you a ton of money.

David.
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Postby Guest » 05/28/07 02:58 PM

Richard, if you have any questions about distribution or anything related to forwarders, carriers, import or export feel free to let me know. I have over 25 years experience in international logistics and developed the popular method of distribution used in high tech over 20 years ago. I managed distribution points in Zurich, The Netherlands, Singapore, Japan, Taiwan, The Philippines, and the US. Sure, not as tough as shipping from Belgium to Europe but I try. Bob Farmers suggestion is very good as well.
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Postby Bob Farmer » 05/28/07 04:48 PM

Here's a link to the Canadian site:

http://www.canadapost.ca/segment-e.asp
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 05/28/07 07:13 PM

There are no alternative shipping solutions for overseas. We already use a bulk method for overseas airmail shipping--the magazines are flown over in bulk and then dropped into the local mail systems--that is how our air service copies are delivered.

There is no equivalent service for surface mail.

As to Mr. Mitchell's snide remark that I should have known about this in advance, I can only say, "Take my job, please." Companies whose sole job it is to mail periodicals were caught by surprise.

We're still investigating and debating what to do.
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Postby Guest » 05/29/07 12:46 AM

David Mitchell wrote:
The USPS did tell those it was able to about the changes. However, if you weren't signed up for the right e-mailings then you might not have known about it in time.
How ironic that the USPS communicated these changes by email - and then you'd have to be signed up for the right ones. Shows how much confidence they have in their own service.
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Postby Guest » 05/29/07 06:24 AM

How ironic that the USPS communicated these changes by email - and then you'd have to be signed up for the right ones. Shows how much confidence they have in their own service.
Not really ironic.. perhaps poor planning. Those retailers who use the USPS dynamic pricing API, or postage meters that connect online need an account from USPS. The email was sent to those people using that account, with links to information on their website. In defense of Richard, he doesn't use those tools, so therefore would not have received any notice via that method.

David.
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Postby Guest » 05/29/07 06:33 AM

As to Mr. Mitchell's snide remark that I should have known about this in advance, I can only say, "Take my job, please." Companies whose sole job it is to mail periodicals were caught by surprise.
Richard, I don't want your job.. I'm not trying to punish myself. I've always said that what you've done with Genii amounts to a small miracle. The quality has consistently moved forward from issue to issue (with the exception perhaps of those double covers.... my opinion though).

However the minute I heard about the changes to the mail system I started researching right away, and I'm canadian. Granted, you are one person who does many things so it would be hard. But this issue was known about far in advance.

http://blog.seattletimes.nwsource.com/b ... ng_on.html

That's a link from an article in January.

As I've said, and you may take it as snide, but it's really not, and I'm not telling you how to run your shop, because it runs just fine now. (though I think you should somehow sneak in a vacation that doesn't involve a magic convention). Because your business almost solely depends on the mail system, you or someone in your office should know the system inside and out as best they can.

Ignorance is no excuse. I'll still buy Genii now, and when the rate need to go up again. I'm willing to pay for that quality.

David.
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Postby Bob Farmer » 05/29/07 06:50 AM

Richard, David is absolutely right, someone in your office has their head in the sand. Here are my suggestions:

1. Call a meeting of all upper-level Genii management staff (vice presidents down to regional managers -- you may have to fly in your east and west coast people).

2. Put the issue before them and tell them you want a complete audit right down to the mail room people and the Genii cafeteria workers -- they MUST find the fool who let this slip.

3. Once the guilty party has been found -- fire him or her with no severance, no benefits and no health care continuance.

You've got to be tough on your people or they'll slack off and suck the company dry.
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Postby Jeff Eline » 05/29/07 07:15 AM

Richard, David is absolutely right, someone in your office has their head in the sand. Here are my suggestions:

1. Call a meeting of all upper-level Genii management staff (vice presidents down to regional managers -- you may have to fly in your east and west coast people).

2. Put the issue before them and tell them you want a complete audit right down to the mail room people and the Genii cafeteria workers -- they MUST find the fool who let this slip.

3. Once the guilty party has been found -- fire him or her with no severance, no benefits and no health care continuance.

You've got to be tough on your people or they'll slack off and suck the company dry.
Genii's team of corporate lawyers will never go for this
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Postby Guest » 05/29/07 07:36 AM

I'm currently on surface mail and would not mind switching to airmail, as I would rather have a more expensive subscription than none at all.

Other international subscribers might feel the same, once they know about the potential threat this change in postage rates poses to Genii's livelihood.

Michel
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Postby Guest » 05/29/07 07:49 AM

Bob:

Humour is always appreciated. I DO know that there are only 1 or two other people in the office besides Richard. (aside from the corporate masseuse).

But I still stand by my other comments.

David.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 05/29/07 11:07 AM

Good news: we've located another shipping method using the bulk service company who does our air service deliver.

The good news is that the issues will now take only four weeks to arrive by surface mail.

The bad news is that it's going to cost about $8 more per year for a surface mail subscription.
We will be contacting all of our surface mail subscribers and asking them to please send us the additional money so we don't lose money on their subscriptions.

Crisis partially averted, for now.
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Postby Guest » 05/29/07 01:37 PM

The bad news is that it's going to cost about $8 more per year for a surface mail subscription.We will be contacting all of our surface mail subscribers and asking them to please send us the additional money so we don't lose money on their subscriptions.

Crisis partially averted, for now.
You ARE joking arent you?! Dont mean to be so frank, but you have gone completely nuts.

Your crisis has only begun if you think to ask your foreign subscribers to cover the costs of a business decision which should of been known (at worst) and addressed with a solution (at best) months ago. You are now going to ask me to send you the extra money so YOU dont lose money?!Wow! Now that takes courage...

Well Dustin you were right...And now I know why!

While Im happy with getting my subscription at the annual rate I paid (albeit 3 to 4 weeks after the initial release), Im not happy with the idea of asking ME to eat any loss YOU may have as a result of poor business forecasting. At the very least lie to me about a higher quality ink being used, thicker magical paper or brighter photos, or something...anything... to justify this move other than "ooopsss, by the way, we dont want to lose money therefore we are asking you to send a donation"...The magazine is good but it aint...well never mind...

This thread is not a debate about the issues of whether Genii is going to become a digital magazine available as a pdf--it isn't, and that's the end of that discussion.
Is it? While I dont condone it...Just for the record, GENII, IS ALREADY available for those in the know in pdf.Thats all I have to say on the issue.
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Postby Dustin Stinett » 05/29/07 04:40 PM

By Michael Dawson:
At the very least lie to me
Fascinating: Youd prefer that Richard lie to you than make a sincere request (not a demand; a request). Since you clearly do condone lying, that makes your I dont condone it qualifier on the pirated PDFs of Genii rather disingenuous.

Im not at all surprised.

Dustin
(Knows of one expense The Genii could eliminate to help offset the huge expense its about to take.)
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 05/29/07 05:56 PM

Thank you for your support, Mr. Dawson. I'll be cancelling your subscription tomorrow and refunding the balance of your money.
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Postby Bob Farmer » 05/29/07 06:09 PM

Mr. Dawson has failed to understand the club rules, has been found in the dining room without a suit and tie and has been escorted from the grounds by the doorman.

Right now, Genii is way underpriced. It costs $6. It should cost $15. Look at the magic junk that sells for $15 and more -- Genii is a deal by any standard -- it's more than a deal, it's effectively free. Most people spend more than $6 on parking every day.

If one does not want to support one of the gems of the magic world, one should not consider themselves part of that world. There has never been a magic magazine this good.
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Postby Mark Collier » 06/05/07 07:08 AM

I was talking to a friend that works for the Postal Service about this and he mentioned the postal rate is different depending on whether the
mailing label is vertical or horizontal. I don't know if it's enough to make a difference but it might be worth checking out.
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Postby Guest » 06/05/07 09:41 AM

Having edited two magazines and published one professional journal, I am well-aware of the trials and tribulations Richard Kaufman faces daily. It is not a job I would willingly sign up for again.

Imagine that you are a manufacturer and you must make a COMPLETELY NEW PRODUCT every 30 days. In addition to making this COMPLETELY NEW PRODUCT, you must get it delivered to your customers in a timely manner each and every month.

You must price and sell advertising space to companies who want to reach a defined market so they know their advertising dollars are not miss-spent.

This COMPLETELY NEW PRODUCT must be priced competitively - not necessarily reflecting what SHOULD BE CHARGED - but consistent with what your competition charges and this COMPLETELY NEW PRODUCT must turn a profit to support yourself and your family because the COMPLETELY NEW PRODUCT is not underwritten or supported by any organization. On top of all this, the COMPLETELY NEW PRODUCT must satisfy your customers each and every month to the point that they continue buying it.

On top of that you must deal with customer complaints (some real and some nonsensical), production problems both expected and unexpected, ever-rising costs.....the list could go on for several hundred more words.

In addition to producing this COMPLETELY NEW PRODUCT each month you must travel to promote your product, solicit articles and advertising, deal with the myriad egos both large and small that populate our odd little community and still keep your sanity.

Out of the maelstrom of lunacy a decent living must be forged and then, when conditions out of your control force you ask for a small increase in postage, some idiot who is paying far less than the COMPLETELY NEW PRODUCT should sell for whines about having to pay a pittance to offset unexpected increases in postage.

While Richard can't ask for appreciation, the least he should be getting is a bit of respect and understanding.

I'd love to see the kind of magazine Michael Dawson could produce.
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Postby Guest » 06/06/07 10:47 PM

David:

I for one would never question the quality nor the work that goes into Genii. I've seen the steady improvements over the last few years and am always impressed that the magazine that arrives in the mail put together by one man.

I'll never question the price, nor will I ever question Richard on the business decisions that he makes daily in regard to Genii.

However, I can ask why something so important was not in his radar from day one.

Should the prices go up, then I am happy to pay. The sum of all it's parts are still worth way more than I'll ever be expected to pay for a subscription.

David.
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Postby Guest » 06/07/07 01:08 AM

The bad news is that it's going to cost about $8 more per year for a surface mail subscription.
We will be contacting all of our surface mail subscribers and asking them to please send us the additional money so we don't lose money on their subscriptions.
I'm curious as to what ask means here. Is it something along the lines of we would appreciate it if you sent us extra money, or more along the lines of if we dont get the extra money we will have to cancel your remaining subscription and refund some of your money?

Unless the shipping changes are so severe that they would make Genii unprofitable long enough to put it out of business then I really hope it is the second. The magic industry is plagued by poor customer service and it would be a shame for Genii to get attacked for this when they have made such a great name for themselves now.

Because magic is such a small community and with forums such as this it really seems the case that nearly everybody knows everybody. In most industries when a company implements a price increase people complain and if the company asked for peoples help it would not be forthcoming. Imagine if the post office decided to keep their surface mail as before but decided that there would need to a price increase and also asked people to send them some money to help them reduce losses. I would conjecture that people would be appaled at their request. The postal changes are due to financial reasons I'm sure; I doubt they did it just to shake things up. Businesses have to adapt and the cost will be passed on to the consumer. But just as Genii has the right to complain about the cost increases they will have to deal with so too do the subscribers have a right to complain about the added costs they now have to pay.

In general the problems that arise during the course of business are of no concern to the consumer. What I mean is: if the business can't resolve the problem, even if it is not their fault, and has to raise prices then the consumer can just stop buying their product or buy from another company. Since it is a small community and further since Genii is not easily substituted we are much more inclined to help support them and do what we can to carry them through the crisis. But if someone disagrees with the way they are handling the situation and wants to complain that does not make them an idiot.
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Postby Guest » 06/07/07 08:45 AM

Postal rates go up and the magazine's publisher asks for a paltry $8 a year to make up the difference for a small circulation specialty magazine that is already underpriced and people howl and complain like he was asking for a kidney.
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