There is no question this is a really sad time. I’ve been a reader of The Mag since the beginning. I even went to the first meeting at The Gloucester in Gateshead to talk about a new fanzine but Mark can’t remember me being there. That’s a bit of a blow to my delicate ego.
It also extends to true faith. Since the inception of true faith in 1999, The Mag and TF have collaborated closely. We’ve shared printers and we’ve shared distributors. I think we’ve shared readers but we’ve obviously been very different in style. Mark Jensen has been a sleeping partner in true faith and I’ve found him to be the perfect business partner in over fifteen years. He has never ever interfered in the editorial content of true faith. I wish him every success in his future.
You need several ingredients to run a successful magazine. You need ideas – lots of them, originality and you need determination. You need good writers and you need a great designer (Glenn Ashcroft has done the business and then some for us). You need to be organised and you need bit of a head for business. More practically, you need a reliable printer who will hit the deadlines and work with you. In our case working with Gavin Bolam, that’s never been a problem. What has consistently been a problem has been working with distributors.
We used to work with a great company in Gateshead (Gillespie’s) who were a family firm and even better was run by supporters. They were great. Unfortunately, they went bust a few years ago and ever since it’s been an uphill struggle despite working with The Chronicle for a bit. This season, with a new distributor, it’s been just too much. What has kept us going is the knowledge we have a loyal readership. But Mark has had one headache after another with them and a lack of a local contact has been pivotal. By pivotal, I mean disastrous. They just don’t care in honesty.
So, the next issue of true faith (issue 111) will be the last one we put out in printed format.
I’ve initially been depressed about this news and dreaded telling those people close to the fanzine all week (great lads like Glenn, Gareth, Chris, Gav, Paully, Sean, Wallace, Ted and many more) but I’ve known this day has been coming for some time. It has been inevitable. The infrastructure around local print media is crumbling. The fact there is no alternative to the distributor we’ve been using says everything you need to know about the state of the local print media.
Subscribers to a fanzine are its lifeblood. We’ve always done well but the costs of postage have placed a glass ceiling on what we can do, particularly in respect of ex-pat supporters overseas. As an example, our Brazilian Blogger, John Milton lives in Rio. It cost John £70 a 10-issue subscription to true faith. £40 of that £70 is postage. Plus it took about four/five weeks for it to get there.
A couple of seasons ago, I took some sage advice from my daughter (she’s one smart cookie – mother’s side) and decided to bring out the fanzine in digital format after discovering Exact Editions, the market leaders in the field. I also got some great recommendations for them from other fanzines and everything I’ve been told about them has been spot on. They are total professionals. The digital format of true faith has proven to be incredibly successful and the possibilities of what we can do in this format are very exciting. And we can do it much cheaper. Postage costs aren’t reducing any time soon and well, it just takes far too long to be posted all over the world.
Nowadays, John gets his issue of true faith probably before anyone gets hold of the paper copy back home. It costs him an annual charge of £17.99. So, cheaper and faster with the same content! It’s a no-brainer!
This is how we are going to keep the Newcastle United fanzine flame burning.
For my part, now I’ve got my head around it (it almost happened 12 months ago in honesty) I’m excited about it. We’ll be able to improve the design, increase the frequency and the quantity of the content and over time I’m absolutely confident we’ll be able to increase our readership. We’ll be able to host more writers and we’ll really be able to stretch this new format to its absolute limits as we get to know more about its potential.
We already know the Digital format looks fantastic on PCs, Lap-Tops but it is especially good on i-pads and Tablets. Oh Brave New World that hath such things in it ….
For our current paper fanzine subscriptions we’ll have full details of refunds when we send the final paper issue to you as part of your subscription to true faith.
true faith – DIGITAL – Click here
Onwards and Upwards.
Keep On, Keepin’ On …