Wednesday, February 11, 2009


I know this will be frustrating to a handful of you, but I am still unable to offer a real subscription option for the print version of M-Brane. For at least the first couple of months, I will be offering something on a month-by-month basis.  I have completed already a first, very small run of issue #1.  The handful of people who made arrangements to receive those copies will receive them in a couple days.  As for the remaining copies, I have decided to offer them up as part of a thank-you package for a special donation to the M-Brane Writers' Fund (see note near the top of the page, under the subscription info). If some kind of credible demand for more copies of print #1 starts up, I will consider doing a second run of it.

"But what's all this about print runs and extra copies, Chris?" you might be asking. "Were you not selling it by print-on-demand on CreateSpace or some such thing?" Yeah, well, I bagged that idea for now when I discovered that the shipping charge to the reader per single copy was going to be nearly $7.00 and the best they could do for that price was promise a two to three week-wide delivery window.  Also, the lowest price I could have sold it for through them was about $6.00, so we'd be looking at about $13.00 for a single copy of a magazine, which is just plain stupid. I was expecting it to hit maybe $8.00 or $9.00, but $13.00 is just out of sight.  No one would buy it. So, for this first issue, I just hauled my laptop over to the local print shop, got some help from the nice young man there, and a did a small run of copies the old fashioned way.  (It kind of took me back to the old Trek fanzine days in the 80s--though we didn't have computers then, and we had to assemble pages for reproduction out of bits of real paper glued together with rubber cement before going to see the printer.) The upside of this is that shipping to send out a copy of it is a reasonable $1.85 first class.  The downside is that production cost per copy was nearly $8.00. So we're still looking at an almost $10/copy zine, which makes me unhappy. I could have dropped almost $3.00 off of that by giving up the color cover...but I didn't want to sacrifice that.  Anyway, I'm just not going to put out the idea that there will be a subscription available for 12 issues for over a hundred dollars per year, or sixty bucks for half a year.  That offends my sensibilities a lot...and no one would buy it anyway.

This does not, however, mean that print is just plain dead as a medium for M-Brane (but it does have a stake through its heart, which it is clutching at desperately with withered hands, like Christopher Lee in a Hammer Dracula film).  I will be offering for sale the print edition of #2 (I'll add the info on buying it in a couple days) for those who want to shell out (get your Pay Pal accounts warmed up!), but I still hope to be able to offer the print two-issue "omnibus" that I mentioned a few posts back. There is another POD service that can make for me a much larger book but at a production cost not much larger than a smaller one, and I may be able to finagle a reasonable cost, with shipping, for such a thing.  Final details on that, however, will not be out until publication of issue #2.

This is really an economy-of-scale problem that is worse than I knew it would be when I started. If I can get to where there is a lot of demand for the print version, then I have ways to bring down the cost a lot. Another possibility is that if subscriptions to the PDF version really jumped a lot to where I have a lot of "extra" money beyond what I need for the writers' fund, then I could go ahead and spring for a bigger and cheaper-per-copy print run and risk taking a bath on it, or waiting around for back issues to sell.  But I'm not there yet either, and I'd rather invest any so-called extra revenue into higher rates for the writers anyway. 

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