The Incredible Shrinking Model Railroader Magazine ?!

Recently there was bunch of talk about the price and contents of the MR Mag.
I have an interssting observation. I didn't even set out to discover
this. It happened by accident.
Couple of days ago I was up in my attic organizing my magazines. I bought bunch of plastic magazine holders and I was planning to put my magazines in them. I was hoping that I could fit a year's worth of issues in each holder. The holders are designed to hold the magazines vertically (just like the binders but they are box shaped.
My unsorted collection was from 1990 to present. I was barely able to squeeze 12 issues into one holder. It was a real tight fit. But around year 2001 I stuffed all 12 issues and had a room to put in at least one more magazine. The same was true for 2002 and 2003 years.
So, the total numner of pages per year's worth of magazine seems to have shrunk by quite a bit ! And the price is not getting any lower !
BTW, this is a totally unscientific observation. I just found it odd and decided to share it with the world.
There could be many explanations for this. MR Mag might be printed on lighter paper (which is thinner). They might have eliminates some pages with ads only. Heaven knows there is enough of ads in that magazine ! But I suspect that we are plainly getting less of the magazine for more money !
Just some food for thought ... Peteski
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On 9 Feb 2004 23:16:07 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@my-deja.com (Peter W.) wrote:

Model Railroader has changed size at least once (1946 or so) and changed number of pages several times over the years. I don't have any MR's any more but seem to recall it was "fat" in early fifties; slimed down by 1957 and repeated several times.
MR used cheap, almost newspaper quality, paper for a time (I think during WWII) due to (I assume) wartime restrictions. I haven't noticed changes in paper other than that, but guess it has happened.
I never paid enough attention to page count to recall if increase/decrease was in ad content, editiorial content or both.
Lately layout of magazine has been changing. This might have effect on total page account. Example -- although I haven't counted, it seems now that product reviews are somewhat longer than before.
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There were several oddities in MR production in the early years. As Charles noted, there was a size change just after WW II, although I seem to recall it around 1948. Before that time, the pages were numbered consecutively beginning with the January issue each year, too. Thus the November issue might start with page 800.
There was one issue during the Korean war (1950-53) that had the center 4 pages on ordinary newsprint instead of glossy magazine paper. I recall the center page spread was plans for a Chicago PCC, and the coarse paper made them very fuzzy.
Walt
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In fact, the average number of pages per issue reached an all-time peak in 1990-91 but the subsequent decline was at first very slow. From 1998 onwards it has become quite dramatic, falling significantly each and every year. Recent issues have been running just under 150 pages, compared to 200+ pages a dozen years ago.
In filing away my copies of MR in plastic magazine holders I noted the same situation as the original poster: around 1990 I had to jam them in to include 12 issues but now a year's worth kinda flops around in the same holder. Odds are that currently, over the course of a year's worth of magazines, MR has lost more than a full issue of useful content. Rather disturbing.
CNJ999
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onwards it

Recent
dozen
same
include
Odds
lost
It seems that it is indeed content. I had nothing new to read this morning, so when I was resting in the washroom, I looked at the latest two issues of MR, seems there are more pages of advertisments than there is content. So I guess we did lose 50 pages of content per issue.
--
Will
HO - Credit Valley Railway
  Click to see the full signature.
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Pete,
I have a collection of MR from 1948 to present. I believe 1948 was when they changed the physical size of the magazine. I also have them stored in those plastic magazine files. I could bet all of the 50's and 60's issues in one file with room to spare. The magazine started 'growing' in the 70's and by the 80's/90's, I have to be real careful about stuffing them into the plastic file holders so I do not tear them. As you have mentioned, they are now smaller(less pages). I have not done any research on this, but I suspect that some of the large multi-page mail order ads are now smaller. I have seen this happen with other publication as well. It is not just the slow economy, but many mail-order outfits have gone to a single page with a couple of attention getter items, then tell you to go to their web site for a complete listing . Standard Hobby appears to still have large multi-page ads, but TrainQuest is reduced theirs as has Trainworld and others. Over in RMC, I see Toy Train Heaven(Bowser/English) still have large ads as well as a large web site.
Jim Bernier
Charles Seyferlich wrote:

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snipped-for-privacy@my-deja.com (Peter W.) wrote in message

I store my mags the same way and made the same observation. In my case every year MR takes up less and less space because I buy fewer and fewer issues. Sometimes I miss a whole year! I will be buying the current March issue because it has a nice feature on the F&SM of George Selios.
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On 9 Feb 2004 23:16:07 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@my-deja.com (Peter W.) wrote:

It's a trend that goes beyond MR. Our local newspaper has shrunk over the years I've been living here. Physically and content wise. Look at Readers Digest as well.
Kirk
"Moe, Larry, the cheese!", Curly
www.sandpoint.net/captkirk www.stormyacres.com
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On 9 Feb 2004 23:16:07 -0800, Peter W. wrote:
=>Heaven knows there is enough of ads in that magazine ! But I suspect =>that =>we are plainly getting less of the magazine for more money !
Your money doesn't pay for the magazine. The advertisers' money pays. Your money pays only for the distribution of the magazine, and not even all of that. Those are the economics of magazine production in the age of advertising.
BTW, have you done an actual page count, instead of just squeezing the mag into boxes? I mean editorial vs advertising. A quick check of my stack shows that total page counts often vary from one issue to the next.
Wolf Kirchmeir ................................. If you didn't want to go to Chicago, why did you get on this train? (Garrison Keillor) <just one w and plain ca for correct address>
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Even page count wouldn't be accurate. We'd have to go in column-inches, then discriminate between editorial, reviews, letters to the editor, how-to, layout tours, etc. and see how the growth of the magazine has changed over the years. It's a manual process. I have a sampling of mags from 1959 on, mostly 70s, 80s, and 90s, but I haven't had time to catalog them on my database, much less measure columns. It'd be interesting to see the results though. I think the scientific results would bear out anecdotal evidence. I suspect that the late 50s issue with 70-90 pages and almost no advertising would have as much "meat and potatoes" as the bloated issues of the 80s and 90s at 160+ pages.
Jay CNS&M North Shore Line - "First and fastest"
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No, I haven't. Like I mentioned, this was a very unscientific observation made while organizing my magazines. I just felt like throwing it to the group and see what responses I see.
The responses so far all make sense. Especially the ones mentioning that the multi-page ads are now smaller thanks to the Internet. Why pay all that money for a big ad when you can just put a URL in the ad. Logical. It could also be something as simple as a font style and size could have changed.
Despite of all the ads, one nice thing is that the articles seem to be contiguous. In the 80's they used to be chopped up and scattered all over the magazine in between the ads.
I like the N-Scale magazine because they lay out their ads in the front and back of the magazine and the center is all contents.
I'm not sure if I agree that the price I pay only covers distribution.
I also buy Collectible Automobile Magazine. It is printed on much better paper than MR Mag. Similar size. This magazine has no ads at all and it only costs about $7.50. The proportion doesn't seem right ...
Peteski

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Out of curiosity, how many of us actually keep the entire magazine? (I'm also talking in terms of other titles, too.)
Think about it: while it's nice to have the entire issue to hold and read, it nevertheless has volume (bulk) and a year's worth will take up a respectable amount of space. Multiply that by the number of years you've been subscribing, and you can see what kind of problem it becomes!
I've taken the lead of a friend of mine, who has gone through his entire collection of MR, RMC, etc., and cut out the articles of interest to him, whether to be projects built, or to serve as inspiration, or whatnot. The space he's "reclaimed" by doing so is no doubt wonderful.
He obviously didn't do that all in one sitting, given the size of his collection. Rather, it was done in small chunks, so he could "kinda" sort the articles as he went, and photocopied pages on back-to-back articles when he wanted to keep both of them.
Dieter Zakas
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On 12 Feb 2004 04:40:50 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@aol.com (Hzakas) wrote:

I clipped maybe a dozen magazines with idea I would save space.
Lukily I quickly found my interests didn't stay the same. If I clipped PRR stuff I would find interest building in AT&SF. I could not count on not needing some article that had been clipped when it became too late.
Even though I lived in a 4 room apartment I had room for enough shelving to hold a few thousand magazines so I kept them.
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My plan is to catalog my mags in a database (already under way; Perl scripts available free), then scan and burn them onto a CD or DVD. Then I have a searchable database with hyperlinks right to the article, which I can print if I need to. But then, my entire collection currently fits on less than 6 feet of shelf space.
Jay CNS&M North Shore Line - "First and fastest"
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On 12 Feb 2004 04:40:50 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@aol.com (Hzakas) purred:

    The way I beat that was to scan all the back issue content (including informative ads) and store them digitally. This can save lots of space, however I can't comment on that, I never got rid of my mags, so they are still stacked in the closet.
                                cat
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<<The way I beat that was to scan all the back issue content (including informative ads) and store them digitally.>>
When the digital version of MR is bigger than the printed magazine, then we have a real problem. * wink *
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Peter W. wrote:

[snipped to save bandwith]

One other possibility is the transfer of content to Model Railroad Planning and Great Model Railroads. A very quck review of the masthead doesn't show much change in staff levels -- coult be that work is actually being spread out over two additional issues in effect.
As to price, most magazines have increased over the past ten years along with everything else except average wages I suspect
Ron Gillies
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Interesting theory ... And now that you mentioned transfers, lots of current MR articles have a statement on the end which shows "For more information go to the MR website". But I'm still paying premium price for the articles to be in print ! If I wanted to surf the Web, I would be on my computer !
Sometimes I like to get away from all the technology and just read a real magazine !
Peteski

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MR has been shrinking for years. Their ehobbies disaster killed off many dealer ads. They have decided to cut back on words and writing and content. Right now the only thing left to do is head off what is coming and just close down. MR is finished. Subs are shrinking, ads are shrinking, content is shrinking..........only thing rising is the price.
snipped-for-privacy@my-deja.com (Peter W.) wrote in message

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There's a saying in the triathlon/running world - "The older I get, the faster I used to be."
This regular thread, the moaning and groaning about the "good old days" of MRR (and model railroading in general) and how great it used to be, is our equivalent.
I've got access to MRR going back to the 50's. I've perused them, looking for ideas, projects, etc. Folks, the mag wasn't as good as some of you want to recall.
We're in the greatest era of model railroading ever. There are more products of higher quality and variety than ever. Train shows are crowded (with all age groups,) new hobby shops are opening, technology is advancing daily, bringing us new and more exciting products - and folks here are moaning that the hobby is dead and everything used to be better.
Get real, guys.
Mike "55 years young" Tennent "IronPenguin"
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