An announcement about Actual Size Magazine
Sometimes a change is better than a rest – Now that it’s no longer on sale in (UK) shops, it’s time to let everyone know that issue five of Actual Size magazine – the issue that’s been on sale since August – will be the last issue of the magazine in print form.
If you’re a subscriber to the magazine, I’ll be in touch over the next few days about reimbursing you for future unsent issues. And thank you SO much for your support: it has meant a lot.
So why has this happened? I feel that I owe it to both myself and Actual Size’s many and loyal readers, without going into too much detail, to offer at least a brief explanation for why the magazine can’t continue.
The magazine’s distributors were wonderful to work with and I have only praise for them on both a personal and professional level. But sadly, the distribution model makes it almost impossible for all but the biggest magazines to earn any kind of income from publishing. I wanted Actual Size to be widely available, in small towns, big cities, train stations and so on and we achieved that thought a mix of selling in supermarkets, WH Smith, independent shops (always my favourite) and so on. Unfortunately, these days the physical sales of magazines is diminishing continually, meaning that I was warned from the outset that a ‘good’ outcome would be to sell 30% of the copies that were out there in the shops. And because of the way it works, if you produce either more or less copies, you don’t sell a greater or lesser percentage: it’s still just a similar percentage of however many you have out there.
In fact, sales were very healthy and way exceeded expectations (typically more than 50% in supermarkets) but without considerable advertising support, the numbers just did not stack up – it’s a little-known fact that you have to pay handsomely for a magazine to be on sale in certain outlets – a particular chain which was recently voted the worst on the high street, and which has a monopoly at train stations etc., I’m looking at you. And the advertising support’s simply not there any more for an independent magazine that doesn’t have mega distribution. Time after time after time I was told that people would prefer to advertise online with me, if I go down that route.
Anyway, there are more reasons, but I won’t bore you all to death. In short, despite strong (and sometimes great) sales figures from the outset, Actual Size lost money hand over fist, every issue.
There are a lot of magazines out there that go down the road of being much more specialist, only on sale in independent shops etc. and I salute every last one of these. BUT the vast majority of these don’t make a profit and in fact often cost money to produce. People do them for different reasons: as showcases of their work, as a personal passion, as a calling card… I’ve done this before myself (remember my old arts and culture mag ‘Nude’?). It’s an amazing thing to do at certain points in your life. But right now for many reasons (my two daughters being always and forever the first of these) I have neither the financial freedom nor the time to devote quite so much of my time, money and energy to a project that won’t make money.
So, was I naïve to do it in the first place in this day and age? Probably, but I’m still glad it happened.
So, what next? Well, despite being a firm advocate of printed matter, I realised that maybe the magazine itself would make more sense these days as an online entity, with my publishing company producing other printed products – I am talking books here, folks. So early next year, the online version of Actual Size will take its first steps into the world. Meanwhile, I’ve just opened a bricks and mortar secondhand and rare book shop in Manchester’s Levenshulme – follow us on Instagram at @bopcapbooks. we also trade online at www.bopcapbooks.co.uk. I continue with freelance editing and writing work via www.suzyprince.co.uk and other than that, right now I’m having a bit of a rest. Well, compared to usual.
Thank you so much to everyone who’s ever bought a copy, sent me an email, provided content or anything else. You really have been a wonderful bunch.
Onwards… Suzy (editor and publisher of Actual Size)