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back to article When three Linux journos go crowdfunding

Three journalists who worked on the UK newsstand publication Linux Format have struck out on their own and are using crowdfunding to get a new magazine off the ground. Less than a week into their Indiegogo campaign, Andrew Gregory, Mike Saunders and Ben Everard are already a third of the way to reaching the £90,000 launch budget …

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50 percent of profits?

Considering it's a dead tree publication, I can only assume that'll be 50% of nothing.

Having seen what's been happening with other niche publications like New Scientist, I think their days are numbered even before launch.

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(Written by Reg staff) Gold badge

Re: 50 percent of profits?

New Scientist is a huge thing. I guess it still makes good money for its owners.

Linux Voice does not need to be a huge thing. It can work - so long as it is embedded in community, its budgets are modest and its owner/ editors maintain commitment and energy.

Even if print does not work out, there are plenty of revenue-generating options - e.g. from online advertising, sponsorship, merchandising, events, PBS-style community funding, maybe even e-books.

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Re: 50 percent of profits?

The "dead tree" magazine we worked on GREW in circulation last year. It sold over 20,000 copies around the world, and made money. That's money that could go back to free software communities.

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Re: 50 percent of profits?

There's even research that suggests "dead trees" are still better than digital media for reading. Discused in latest Scientific American (which I get on paper), online here: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=the-reading-brain-in-the-digital-age-why-paper-still-beats-screens

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Re: 50 percent of profits?

50% of profits….. pity that once again Managements Salary grew to exactly match excesses of income over expenditure and we have only 'broke even' again.

/cynic

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Anonymous Coward

Typical Linux world, fragment a small user base into two even smaller user bases.

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So we should've stayed at our old company, putting up with reduced page counts and other things that impeded us from making the best magazine possible? This isn't "fragmenting" -- it's a team making something better, more responsible, more involved in the community. A big step forwards, and a different kind of publishing model.

Will we succeed? We can only see. But this isn't some petty fork -- it's a very different kind of mag.

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Linux

The anti-choice "fragmentation" mantra

Stems from the arrogant and cultish mentality that everyone should have the same preferences.

Personally I've been gagging for a quality yet impartial GNU/Linux magazine, although I'm not convinced the dead-tree method has much of a Future (pun intended), despite the anomalous peak in sales, which must be offset by the drop in page count and content/advertising ratio.

Certainly we could use a bit of professional journalism to counter the typical mixture of in-house squabbling and dry, humourless technical material that prevails in the GNU/Linux blogosphere. A bigger and less commercially-oriented Linux Format, in essence.

I'd buy it. I'd even be happy to contribute to it.

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Anonymous Coward

But is there really room for another Linux magazine in the UK? Linux Format, Linux user and now Linux Voice. Plus other non UK based ones which I see from time to time. Despite what people here may say and believe, Linux magazines are aiming at a small niche market. Just sayin', but I know I'll get downvoted anyway

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Bronze badge

It's clearly a risk, but there are plenty of people who said it couldn't support two.

Plus, as anyone who has 'merged' with (i.e. taken over by) a larger organisation knows, they're now escaping an awful lot of overhead costs that will have been charged to their previous magazine and which can now be done much more cheaply.

Throw in the goodwill they've built up, and I'd rather have an investment in this one than Yet Another Windows Magazine.

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Nya
Thumb Up

Good luck to them

Being stuck suffering management which won't use your good ideas to improve the product is always disheartening and hope it works out well for them.

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Need to take Linux out of the niche

Magazines still have a role -- if I think back to the 80s I devoured PC mags to learn about computers. If there was a source of Linux info which embraced beginners, it might widen the audience. I suspect that this goal would be easier to achieve via existing mainstream publications.

But good luck to this new venture.

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Print isn't dead. Not at all. There's a terrible misconception that all the worlds info is online, that simply isn't the case. In fact, a lot of the info that's online is the scaled back stuff for general consumption and link bait.

At any rate, €90k isn't much of a goal. I really hope they aren't shooting themselves in the foot aiming too low. That won't take them very far and I would hate to see it fail right out if the gate. Best of luck to them!

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Silver badge

Yeah, I think that a lot of people are coming to the conclusion that dead tree books are declining because people are buying electronic instead. All the evidence is that people are buying *more* publications both electronic and otherwise with the advent of e-books.

It turns out that people are reading more, and that's got to be a good thing.

We just need the publishers to get their heads out of their arses and realise that if you have something that people want, they will pay for it despite whatever godawful DRM schemes they come up with.

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Anonymous Coward

Just a little clarification if you mind...

"We will serve only our readers, not shareholders or a board of directors"

If you are aiming to be a limited company (I would hope you do, unless you want to risk all your own money), then you need a at least one director, if you aim to publically trade, then you need at least 2. So in a way, you will be serving directors, yourselves.

All that said, good luck to them, nice to see a fresh direction, and I'm not even a Linux user (well not in the desktop / server sense)

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Holmes

The reasons the team quit

Are explained by the team themselves on Reddit:

"AndrewJamesGregory 13 points 3 days ago ... The straw that broke the camel's back for me was that Future PLC cut the page count of every magazine, regardless of how well they were doing, in an effort to cut costs (of at least, an effort to be seen to be cutting costs in fromnt(sic) of the institutional investors in the City of London who own 80-odd per cent of Future). Linux Format was doing well; we'd increased our circulation and our profits, despte(sic) rising costs of print, having no digital edition suitable to Linux users etc. So I found it pretty galling that, to pay for other magazines' falling circulations, the quality of our product had to suffer by having pages taken away from it. What made this worse is that at the same time, the PLC announced that it would be reinstating the divident(sic) payment for shareholders. I saw this as taking value away from the readers, the subscribers, and putting directly into the hands of the shareholders. This is unfair."

Also, it seems there were problems with the digital edition:

"Padfoots 10 points 3 days ago ... Of course, when the digital version arrived, it was via an app that only worked on Windows. Eventually they got a version on Google Play, and iOS.

The annoying thing, the magazine never emerged in a digital format for their target audience, Linux users.

benev 12 points 3 days ago ... You have no idea how annoying this was from inside the team. There was absolutly(sic) no technical reason for this. Everything was set up for a DRM-free PDF subscription more than two years ago and it constantly got held up by someone in Future publishing who wouldn't speak to us (the LXF team). No reasons were ever given to us for the hold up. It was only on the Ubuntu software store because we could do this without waiting for the same chain of approval.

WE WILL NOT DO THIS ON LINUX VOICE. Our digital editions will be DRM free and available on all Linuxes. Sorry for shouting, but I wanted to be clear."

Apparently Future Publishing suffers from an advanced form of intellectual monopoly hysteria called DRM-itis.

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Facepalm

Re: The reasons the team quit

> The annoying thing, the magazine never emerged in a digital format for their target audience, Linux users.

Jesus Christ. Really?

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Re: The reasons the team quit

For example, it's available via Zinio...

... "for Rim, PC/MAC, Android, iPad, Win8". You can use a browser to look at it, but there's nothing native. As it's a DRM'd PDF, there's no excuse.

There are equally weird publishing decisions in there. I had a voucher worth $x and looking through what's available found a guide to the Raspberry Pi for less than that. Click, click, bought it.. and it turns out that the Android client won't touch it because that's what the publishers say has to happen. So I have to use a browser.

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Joke

Re: The reasons the team quit

Maybe they should move away from open source and get some MS products in, such as Word. They seem to have a better spell-checking solution than whatever they are currently using.

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h3
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There is loads of Linux stuff targeted at beginners.

What I might be interested in is something that just had massive amounts of depth on diverse topics.

(Or enough to understand the manpages properly).

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Yes I kept getting that with Linux Format. My sub with them runs out this Christmas and I don’t think ill renew! Might look into Linux Voice but what you said I would very much agree with.

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Bronze badge

Ditto. I increasingly found there wasn't much in there of real instructive value (unless you had an Arduino) apart from the excellent Dr Brown's Administeria.

Er, has he bailed too? I haven't gotten around to opening many of this year's bagged copies yet (blame for that lies with Future Publishing too, but best not go into that...). Reading the above, I'm a little scared to, now :(

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Mark me down for a sub

Good luck

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@mikesaunders

Let me know how I can help. We don't have a lot of spare money at the moment (bootstrapping our own venture here,) but we do have access to a few internal resources that might be good for overflow. The world needs more quality open source reporting.

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Anonymous Coward

I cqn only hope that

the new mag isn't as 'Ubuntu' centric as other Linux Mags are.

There is life outside what Canonical Preach. Whilst I've never been a fan of it I do think that at first Ubuntu was a breath of fresh air in the Linux Community.

However in recent years they seems to have done as much as they possibly can to alienate their core users. Most of my Linux using friends have given up in favour of distros like Mint, Debian and even Fedora.

I'm willing to give the new mag a chance though. Who knows, I might even give up my subscription to Linux Format. I've been a subscriber to it for more than 10 years but recently I have noticed a decline in content.

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Linux

Finding a Linux mag on the newsrack ..

Maybe the reason Linux mags aren't selling well, is the difficulty in actually finding them on the newsrack. Usually tucked in on the bottom, at the back, hidden behind free Windows and iPhone adverts ..

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Finding a Linux mag on the newsrack ..

Hmm... Personally I see them fairly prominently in the computing section. I did buy Linux format, once, many years ago when I was trying to get my Linux knowledge up to the level of my Windows knowledge (at the time I was a Windows server expert as a job.) The magazine had a review of Windows XP, which was as I recall snarky and demonstrated a total lack of knowledge of the product from start to finish. I actually fired off an email to them and said that this sort of thing is alienating to Windows users who want to use Linux and they replied with an email which basically said "it was a joke article." It clearly wasn't.

That's why I don't read Linux Format, I presume it may well have got better, but I get anything I need from online publications now. I'd probably even read Linux Format if it were a Reg style online publication, but I actively avoid any technical "paper" magazines these days, in favour of books and Private Eye on the occasions that I travel on the train.

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Love the last FAQ

"Q. Is Graham Morrison involved in this campaign?

"A. Graham Morrison, the editor of our previous magazine, quit at the same time but a restrictive covenant in his employment contract means he can't be involved in any similar activity until 20th December 2013."

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Linux

The mystery is solved.

I did wonder why a large chunk of LXF's staff had jumped ship.

Now we know why.

I had noticed the change in content and put it down to the musical chairs that seemed to be going on.. Now it looks like the changes were imposed from above. Being Linux lovers and used to the freedom that using Linux brings I can't imagine that diktat of this kind will have gone down well.

I won't use Paypal so I will have to keep my eyes skinned for the paper copy. Let's hope that the likes of WH Smiths decide to take the mag. Getting it otherwise might be problematic to put it mildly.

Good luck to the team.

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advertisers?

!3) We will serve only our readers, not shareholders or a board of directors.!

and what about your advertisers then? Will we see powder puff reviews?

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zb

I used to be a UK and then Spanish LXF subscriber for many years. When I moved to Brazil the subscription became too expensive and I stopped. They can put me down for an electronic subscription if the price is sensible.

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