Kalmbach Continues to Offend


The “Model Railroader” e-newsletter arrived in my in box this afternoon. The lead item — “Video: learn how to install static grass on your layout.” This interests me so I logged into my MR account to get — a static picture and a brief description. As before, I have to “subscribe” to get premium content. I support my local hobby shop by buying “Model Railroader” and “Trains” every month. Do you understand that Kalmbach? I AM A SUBSCRIBER! Are you really worried that legions of internet users are going to come along and steal your intellectual property on static grass and harm you economically? If you knew anything about marketing with the web you would use this content to link to the magazine in useful ways and thereby drive circulation. Enterprises that live behind walls don’t work in the hobby business. “Mad” magazine carried its editors and writers on its masthead as “The Usual Gang of Idiots.” Maybe this motto fits your business model. If you need some fresh ideas, just let me know!


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6 Responses to “Kalmbach Continues to Offend”

  1. Ed Kowal Says:

    Kalmbach doesn’t _want_ fresh ideas. They are following the business model made popular by Microsoft’s Bill Gates and Walmart.

    “We’re bigger than you and we can do what we want. Too bad about your needs.”

    Ten or so years ago, Kalmbach bought a magazine with a very limited circulation called Telescope Making. It was presumably of interest because they publish Astronomy magazine in competition with Sky & Telescope, which in my (not so humble) opinion is a better magazine. They proceeded to continue Telescope Making for a very few issues, an then subscribers, of which I was one at the time, got the message that…

    Kalmbach was folding Telescope Making because the number of subscribers was not sufficient to continue publishing the magazine!! Didn’t they know that ahead of time? Sure.

  2. Gary Says:

    Ed, I think you make a very good point, especially by linking this to the business attitude of Bill Gates. Take a look at my post about Model Railroad Hobbyist, a rather lengthy “magazine” fully online and highly interactive. It may be just a matter of time before this kind of publication overwhelms what comes out of Milwaukee from the folks at Kalmbach.

  3. Ed K Says:

    Hello again Gary:

    I took a look at Model Railroad Hobbyist, and it seemed promising. It needs work on ease of interactivity before most people would have the patience to read more than a page or two. I certainly didn’t, and I’m a fairly patient guy.

    The type was very small; making it larger by the most obvious route made it annoying for me to navigate around so I dropped it.

    Kalmbach and Model Railroader has a website, of course. Free access doesn’t get you everything you would like. You pays yer money…

  4. Riley Says:

    There’s so much turnover at Kalmbach that stuff like this is no surprise. Whenever the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel lays off people, they turn up in Waukesha. One of the problems that Kalmbach has is the nagging fear that someone, somewhere, is getting away with something for free. Of course, they have to think that way because Kalmbach still offers benefits to employees. Well, they did the last time I heard about it.

    The market has moved toward the very low-cost operations and podcasts, where people are working at the model railroad craft but have other sources of income. There are some that are doing it full time, but there’s a lot of part-time stuff out there. At the same time, the quality of the editorial material from these sources is considerably improved over what it was like in the 1960’s. That is, people are a lot more knowledgeable than at that time and we are all the better for it.

    I don’t know where the print magazines are going to fit in…..

    • Gary Says:

      Well said, Riley. Kalmbach has too much in common with American businesses facing decline. You can feel good by listening to your fans but you won’t learn much. If you want to make your business thrive you’ll learn a lot more from engaging with your critics.

  5. cdboch Says:

    I agree. I launch model rocket and paint metal miniatures and in each of those markets the “big guy” tries to squeeze out the “little guy” and just gets a larger and larger piece of a smaller and smaller pie. The idiots are killing our hobbies.

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