Learning the Lessons

Once the dust had settled, and the tears caused by the dust had dried, what lessons can be learned from the Review‘s disappointing day at the Independent Press Fair? First, it is helpful to provide a wide range of products, rather than several different editions of the same publication. I had hoped the Fair would see the launch of two new titles put together by myself: Projections (about vintage cinema) and Contrast (about retro television), but lack of funds prevented this. Similarly, as I cannot afford to have The Earlham Review printed in colour, this gives the eight issues, when collected together, an uninspiring and slightly scruffy appearance, especially contrasted against the colour of the other stallholders’ wares. I had no business cards or ‘freebies’ to hand out, so perhaps some future investment could go towards promotional badges, pens, or even t-shirts. This might have helped draw in extra customers, and given them a free gift to help remember the Review by. I was also attending by myself, whereas the other presses were in twos or threes, and this may have led to my being seen as unapproachable in some way. Finally, at £5 each, is the Review too expensive? I attempted to structure the price list in such a way that buying several editions at once made for better value – £10 for three, all eight for £25, for example. However, each edition costs around £3.50 to produce, and is the result of four to six months’ work.

Perhaps it is a question of the Review finding the right venue and appropriate audience. One visitor to the stall made a suggestion that had crossed my mind in the past, that the Review should be on offer at cafes, diners, waiting rooms, bus/train stations, wherever people are likely to have time to spare, and wanting something they can easily stash away or dispose of once read. The Review, like Projections and Contrast, is not topical or satirical, meaning each edition will not date so quickly as a newspaper or weekly/monthly magazine. In some countries, books are available in vending machines, much like snacks and drinks are here, so perhaps that is one way forward. Alternatively, the Review and any future sister titles could carry advertising, making them free of charge, and available for distribution to anywhere happy to take them, as the local art listings magazines one can pick up in a pub or shop. One thing is certain, and that’s word of mouth, and plugging the magazine on social media outlets (the Review is on Facebook and Twitter) is not currently enough to get people buying, wherever they find it.

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