June 2007


President's corner

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President's Corner

Woodworking Magazines have significantly influenced the art and craft of woodworking. More than 30 years ago, in the mid 1970's, Fine Woodworking magazine began publication. Initially the magazine was published in black and white and set a standard that few woodworking magazines have since achieved. The introduction of this magazine had a major impact on woodworkers interested in learning new woodworking techniques and about the latest innovations in tools. Many new magazines on various aspects of woodworking followed as a result of the success of Fine Woodworking. As the interest in woodworking began to grow in the United States, partly from the efforts of Norm Abram's New Yankee Workshop, more woodworking magazines appeared. In recent years the competition among many of the magazines has resulted in some of the better magazines lowering their standards. This has resulted in some magazine containing mostly advertisements for the tool companies. Many of the more experienced woodworkers have canceled their subscriptions to these low content magazines. More recently, many publishers are experimenting with adding additional content on-line. Unfortunately, many publishers require a separate additional subscription to access the electronic content. Retrieving back issues also requires a fee even when a reader has been paying for subscriptions for years and already owns a paper copy of the back issues that he or she is interested in accessing. For the most part, the scientific journal publishers allow access to back issues to everyone who has a paid subscription. The cost of producing electronic content is far less than the printed material. The future of the printed magazine is in question. I can imagine a magazine such as Fine Woodworking offering twenty or more articles on line each month. The subscriber could choose the same number of articles that the magazine now contains and the chosen articles would be printed along with the usual advertisements and sent to the subscriber for the same price as a current subscription. I think most woodworkers would be delighted if their favorite magazine allowed them to produce their own custom magazine. It is clear that electronic publishing is the future of the magazine industry; hopefully more publishers will use this paperless media as a way to grow subscribers rather than a way to make a little more money.

Bill Henzel