Date: 12th September, 2012
With the premiere of the new Pinball Magazine last month and the subscription copies currently landing on doormats across the world, we talk to Editor Jonathan Joosten about the launch, how the magazine turned out, and his plans for the future.
It was in the English town of Daventry that the official launch of the new Pinball Magazine publication took place in mid-August, during the 2012 UK Pinball Party. It was also the first time the publication's Editor, Jonathan Joosten, had seen the finished product.
Jonathan spoke to Pinball News after the launch to describe how it went and how visitors reacted to his new magazine.
"It was fun and it went really well. I had no idea what to expect and how people would react to the magazine, but in the event everybody I spoke with was very impressed with how it turned out. Quite a few people who stayed over at the hotel on the Saturday night took copies to their rooms to read, and most complimented me on the Sunday morning - which is encouraging. In particular Mark Ritchie and his wife Trudy, as well as Gary Flower, were very kind and critical, but impressed. It was also very nice to hang out with them in the bar :)"
What was most surprising was how Jonathan hadn't actually seen a physical copy of the magazine before he flew to its launch in the UK. So we asked him how this came to happen and, once he'd seen it, whether it turned out as he'd hoped when he first though of publishing a pinball magazine?
"When I decided to launch the magazine at the UK Pinball Party I was still waiting for Roger to send in his last edits. Allow me to take the opportunity to thank Roger, his wife Ellen and their sons Josh and Zach for their help: without them the magazine would not be what it is. It may have looked similar, but it would have been a terrible read. Roger deserves all the credit for editing his own interview. I know how busy he is and it must have taken him a lot of his precious free time. The same goes for his sons, who have been a great help. I should also mention copy editors Eric and Paul, as well as Jim Schelberg and Martin Ayub: they all helped out making the magazine what it is."
"Back to the question. Basically the printing schedule for the magazine was pretty tight. It was supposed to be printed just prior to the weekend before the UK Pinball Party and shipped out on the Monday. The printer didn’t want to split the shipment into two parts, to be delivered to two separate locations, but I managed to convince them to do so. That turned out to be critical, as the transport company that was supposed to deliver the magazines to my office on Thursday didn’t show up."
"I left the Netherlands for the UK on Friday and while I was on my way I got a call from the delivery driver saying that he was on my doorstep. Twenty-four hours late! Luckily the other batch of magazines arrived in the UK on time, so that’s where I finally got to see the finished product for the first time. There were maybe one or two minor things I expected to be different, but overall I was really happy with the way it turned out."
We asked Jonathan whether there were any changes he would have made, given a little more time.
"Maybe I would have tried to fit in a few more photos, and I had to leave out one article I had in mind, but that may still appear in Issue 2. I've noticed some typos that weren't spotted in the rush to get the magazine to the printer on time, as well as one fact mentioned on the Numbers page that turned out to be incorrect, but which I didn't find out about until after the magazine had been printed. I have put a page up on the website that highlights all the typos and says what they should read. "
Now that those who bought copies have had a chance to digest at least some of the 112 pages, there have been plenty of reactions and comments posted to social media sites and discussion groups.
Jonathan told us about those he had received. "So far I have received nothing but compliments. Not just during the UK Pinball Party, but also from people who ordered their copies online. On the Pinball Magazine website I have posted a few samples of the feedback I have received. So far it’s all compliments and a few suggestions for further improvement. I’m very happy that there's been such a positive response to the magazine and that people are already looking forward for the next issue."
While kind words are no doubt all very welcome, the magazine has to sell enough copies to be financially viable. So we asked Jonathan how many copies were printed and have sales met expectations?
"The first print run was 1750 copies and it has been selling very steadily. I might even have to do another print run. Just as with a book, a second run will be slightly different as the previous mentioned typos will be corrected."
One unique feature of Pinball Magazine is the way the majority of the pages are given over to a single interview - in this case with Roger Sharpe. Roger has clearly led an amazing life and has no problem filling all those pages with anecdotes from his many years in the pinball industry.
With the first issue now published, we asked Jonathan whether this was a formula he thought could continue through subsequent issues and whether there were enough suitable subjects with the same depth of involvement in the business to produce interviews of similar lengths.
"Originally I was hoping to fill sixty-eight pages, but the interview ended up weighing in at 112 because Roger has so many interesting things to say. He wears many hats and discusses many different topics."
"I actually don’t think it will be a problem to fill another magazine in a similar way. At the UK Pinball Party I spoke to Mark Ritchie and many people have suggested doing an issue that focuses on him and the stories that he can tell."
"If a future issue were to focus on Mark Ritchie, the math would be pretty simple: Mark has worked on at least fourteen games. Discussing each game would take up three or four pages, including photos, so that’s already forty-two to fifty-six pages. Add in the 'Others about' feature and some ads and we’re already at sixty-eight pages. Plus there will be the regular features on pinball museums, pinball websites and specialty collectors, and I’ll probably introduce a few other regular features in the next issue. An issue along those lines would easily run to over a hundred pages again."
So now the task of promoting and selling copies of the magazine at shows around the world continues. Some of these will involve Jonathan being there in person, while at others the magazine will be available to buy from the host or another vendor.
"While I won’t be there in person, the magazine will be available and promoted at the Pacific Pinball Expo 6, as well as the SS Billiards 40th Anniversary Party. This year I will be attending the Dutch Pinball Open, possibly the Northern Lights Pinball at Play Expo in the UK, definitely Pinball Expo in Chicago and perhaps the Belgian Open Pinball."
So can potential buyers get copies of Pinball Magazine from any third-party vendors, or is ordering through the website still be easiest option? Jonathan explained the problems sending multiple copies to vendors in other countries.
"Apart from the Pacific Pinball Museum, and Great Pinball in Canada I didn't ship to other vendors. I had requests from various parties but it didn’t make financial sense. Shipping a couple of boxes for Pacific Pinball Expo 6 turned out to be a bit of a disappointment because on top of the shipping there are other costs and taxes to add. That doesn’t make it very profitable for a third party, or for me, to set up such a collaboration. The easiest and cheapest way to make the magazine available is through of the Pinball Magazine website or at a show."
Although the first issue is only just out, we wondered whether plans for the second are under way, and what features we might expect to find inside.
"The good news at the moment is: it looks like the first issue is breaking even. That is without charging my own hours, but it looks like all other expenses will be covered with the current sales. That will allow me to do a second Issue and hopefully build a solid readers base."
"Having said that, the second issue is in the initial planning stage. I have contacted some of the people I'd like to feature in future issues, and who actually ends up featuring in Issue 2 partly depends on their availability. I have also made a few lists of topics for the regular features. I’m talking with some people who want to contribute, discussing their ideas and deciding whether they fit in with the overall idea for the magazine. There have been suggestions for repair articles, but I‘m not sure if that would work. "
"I have also been working on a French translation of the eight-page Preview Magazine. Special thanks to Loic and Emmanuel for doing the translation and proofreading. This translated preview will be published online this week, and if there is enough demand then it might be worth translating the whole issue into French."
"I’ve been thinking of doing a German version as well, but it seemed that there wasn’t enough demand. Then again, that was before the magazine got released, so perhaps more people are interested now they know what kind of magazine they can expect."
The French version of the preview edition Jonathan mentioned above has now been completed and is available here on the magazine's website
© Pinball News 2012