Model Railroading Unlimited?

Discussion in 'Getting Started' started by Squidbait, Apr 4, 2007.

  1. Squidbait

    Squidbait Recovering ALCO-holic

    Many moons ago, Kalmbach had a short movie about modelrailroading called Model Railroading Unlimited. They would lend it free to any MRR group in the US. Being a young Canadian MRR'er, I always felt this to be grossly unfair.

    I have no idea what brought it to mind recently, but I wondered if any copies of this film survive, or if it ever made it to VHS or DVD?
  2. robhink

    robhink New Member

  3. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    It may have morphed (transmogrified ;)) into "The World's Greatest Hobby" material, which is available for a small fee... :rolleyes:, much like most of the other formerly free content on Kalmbach's site.

  4. Squidbait

    Squidbait Recovering ALCO-holic

  5. Squidbait

    Squidbait Recovering ALCO-holic


    Yeah, it seems like there's been a shift of mindset at Kalmbach, away from promotion and directly towards squeeze-a-buck.

    I can't believe what they're charging for their intro books. $20! For a skinny, glossy collection of magazine articles. It's pathetic. And the prices they're asking for their PDFs is ludicrous. Considering the articles have already been published, and presumably paid for by the advertising in the issue it was published in, it seems pretty sleazy to me to try and squeeze those kind of dollars out of people.
  6. kitsune

    kitsune Member

    Kalmbach has always charged high rates for their books. As a small, independent publisher in a niche market, they have no other choice.

    As for the formerly free content on the sites, most of what was free still is now. The newswire is the only part that isn't free that used to be, and that is avaialbe to subcribers of the magazine. As for the PDFs, I haven't bought any, but it's not uncomparable with what you pay on iTunes to download a couple songs.

    Remember folks it costs money to make this stuff. Somebody has to pay the writers, editors, the web hosting bill, etc....
  7. Squidbait

    Squidbait Recovering ALCO-holic

    OK, 2 things in reverse order:

    Packaging previously published (and presumably paid for) articles as PDFs, and then charging more than what a back-issue containing that article would cost is just silly. Of course if you're silly enough to pay for it... caveat emptor.

    1 - I don't subscribe to iTunes, either :p Since I don't generally listen to mainstream music, I get much more bang for my downloading buck by subscribing to a service that gives me 40 downloads per month for $10 - a quarter of the price of iTunes. (and their actually MP3s, easily transferred among any of my listening devices!)
  8. railohio

    railohio Active Member

    Who says they're making fists full of money with the magazines, though? Maybe they're just breaking even in print and trying to make a profit with the online content. Nobody knows. You're speculating about an industry that doesn't publicize their financial information.

    The fact of the matter is that it costs much more to run professional content, be it printed or Web-based. As kitsune said, there are more costs associated with running a professional operation than one with user-provided content. There are editors, an art department, and contributors that are compensated for their effort. Does advertising revenue fully cover the operating expenses of The Gauge? I'd guess not, and they don't pay for content or staff. (Oops, there we go speculating again...)
  9. Squidbait

    Squidbait Recovering ALCO-holic

    Horse hockey.

    Kalmbach publishing is large and diverse enough that they're not running razor-thin margins on the specialty magazines - otherwise they'd fold them just like Mainline Modeller and Model Railroading were folded by their publishers. In fact, one likely reason those magazines folded was that their advertising to content ratio was lower than MR. Having watched the Model Railroader content:advertising ratio shrink from greater than 1 to less than 1 over the last 30 years, I find it hard to believe they're not making money - especially considering what their advertising rates are.

    Second, we're talking about magazine articles that are already set, edited and photographed being ported or scanned to a PDF file. In fact, looking at the list of PDFs, most of them are material that have been re-hashed through several articles and books - in other words they've been long-since paid for. Given that the publishing industry has been electronic for years, we're talking about the work of a few minutes for an intern, not a major project for the editorial staff.

    Does it cost money to maintain their slick website? Yes. But I suspect they're large enough that they do their own hosting, and have their own support staff, so the overhead, while large, when spread across all the magazines published by Kalmbach is relatively low.

    I'm not suggesting (unlike some people in other forums) that the material should be free. I'm suggesting that it's grossly over-priced for what is being offered.
  10. rogerw

    rogerw Active Member

    Remember folks it costs money to make this stuff. Somebody has to pay the writers, editors, the web hosting bill, etc....
    but why charge 3 dollars more for dvd when they are a lot cheaper than vhs to make
  11. kitsune

    kitsune Member

    Is an editor's pay less because something went on disk rather than tape? Overhead is the same.
  12. rogerw

    rogerw Active Member

    blank dvd , 30 cents time to burn 20 minutes, profits pricless
    blank vhs , 1 dollar time to record 1 hour, profits not so good
  13. kitsune

    kitsune Member

    I am not at liberty to discuss what if any magazines are making money at KPC now.

    It is, however, public knowledge that I *can* discuss that, in the past, certain magazines were published by KPC at a loss. For years. And years. Earth was one of them. They were supported because they diversified the portfolio and it was felt that they needed at least a number of years to prove their worth.

    Standing on the outside one might think that corporations like KPC are all powerful and wealthy. The truth is most publisihing firms are running paper thin margins -- even sucessful ones. Cross subsidiy is required to keep things afloat in publishing houses all over, and often the books that are printed are crapshoots as to whether they'll make money.

    Heck producing those PDFs likely took staff time from the art department and the editing department to convert them to PDFs as well as to edit them to ensure they aren't out-of-date now, plus selecting the content itself. That represents an investment of labor that must be recouped. And if they don't sell because people on, say, The Gauge think they are overpriced, then that will become a net loss that will have to be paid for somewhere else by some other product that had nothing to do with the PDFs.

    Welcome to the world of business. Aint it fun?
  14. kitsune

    kitsune Member

    Blank DVD, editor's pay $45-70k a year.
    Blank VHS, editor's pay $45-70k a year.
  15. rogerw

    rogerw Active Member

    kitsune it kind of sounds like the drug firms. you do r and d for years and years on drugs that may or maynot works . So they have to make up for there cost by high drug cost. Bussness can be a crap shoot sometimes. So i guess what im saying is sometimes they have to charge more for somethings.
  16. rogerw

    rogerw Active Member

    I hope there not paying a editor to burn disk/ copy tapes. If there are I will take the job
  17. kitsune

    kitsune Member

    Whoa Roger, I think we were arguing at cross purposes and actually agreeing. You hit the nail on the head.
  18. rogerw

    rogerw Active Member

    no arguing here kitsune. I just think some things should be recovered but when technoligy makes getting a product to the customer cheaper then pass that on to the customer and still make some profit.
  19. Torpedo

    Torpedo Member

    I have recently purchased a number of the Kalmbach model railroading "books." Book is a generous term for these publications. They are mostly a collection of loosely related articles written for Model Railroader at different times by a number of different authors. Those not written by one person or a well lead team lack cohesiveness and do not provide substantial coverage of the title subject. It is also more than a little irritating to come across articles and photographs that were published previously in magazines that one has already purchased. There is nothing like paying for the same thing twice. :curse:

    Even the Jeff Wilson written books are not much to brag about. For instance, "The Model Railroaders Guide To Freight Cars" does not even mention stock cars and has virtually nothing on truss rod cars of any type. It is certainly biased toward the more modern equipment -- and apparently vegetarians -- which might explain the missing stock cars.

    Armstrong's "Track Planning For Realistic Operation" is the lone bright spot in this dismal swamp. It is worth every penny they get for it. As for the rest..... :(
  20. Squidbait

    Squidbait Recovering ALCO-holic

    Again I say Horse Hockey!

    Skimming through the list of PDFs, most are collections of old articles from MR. Likely most are simple scans of the old articles. I would be very surprised to find that any are edited for more contemporary material, since most of the KPC books which are collected articles appear no different than they appeared in the magazine.

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