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Model Railroader on a diet?

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Model Railroader on a diet?
Posted by NWP SWP on Saturday, November 11, 2017 12:20 AM

I was going through some old issues from the beginning of the millennia is it just me or has MR lost weight in the almost two decades since those issues? I figure at the turn of the century and millennium MR fluctuated from 125 to 175 pages so an average of 150 now MR is consistently under 100 and in the ball park of 80 to 90 pages. So MR has lost maybe 70 or so pages therefore that's about a fifty percent reduction in material. I understand that MR is trying to save time/money by cutting the material down but I would happily pay 25 to 50 percent more a year to regain that 50% percent of lost material.

Does anyone else feel this way?

Modeling the combined lines of the Southern Pacific, Western Pacific, and Northern Pacific after a fictional Depression Era merger forming the SouthWestern Pacific and NorthWestern Pacific Railroads. SP, WP, and NP operations remain independent but also operate alongside NWP and SWP equipment.

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Posted by Sir Madog on Saturday, November 11, 2017 12:40 AM

This issue pops up now and then and yes, you are right, there are a lot less pages in the current MR issues, but actually, the number of pages with content has not been reduced much over the years. In the pre-Internet days, hobby magazines were loaded with ads, which are now missing. The revenue from those ads is also missing, making publishing a magazine a risky business these days. If we want to enjoy MR (and others magazines) in the future, we have to stay faithful subscribers.

   Ulrich     

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Posted by NWP SWP on Saturday, November 11, 2017 12:48 AM

So the 70 pages that are no longer between the covers were just ads? I think that's a little far fetched. I'd say we've lost maybe 45 pages of actual content? The other 45 were ads?

I still will renew my subscription but MR please add some more content to the magazine even if that means upping the price by a bit.

Modeling the combined lines of the Southern Pacific, Western Pacific, and Northern Pacific after a fictional Depression Era merger forming the SouthWestern Pacific and NorthWestern Pacific Railroads. SP, WP, and NP operations remain independent but also operate alongside NWP and SWP equipment.

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Posted by mlehman on Saturday, November 11, 2017 12:54 AM

In several previous discussions, it was pointed out that much of the perception of less content was actually a reduction in advertising pages due to change brough about by the internet. Think of Trainworld ads. Then, they listed everything available right there in print in multiple page ads. Now they get by with an ad emphasizing their website and a few selections that fit on a single page or less.

Ad revenue, not subscriptions, tends to drive page count.

If you look at actual editorial content, there's little evidence of "missing" material but that would require a somewhat more nuanced argument. Articles have changed considerably in syle and content, with, yes, many fewer words. In compensation, there are many more pics and more color.

Things change. It's the one sure thing. But I suspect it's not anywherre near as doom and gloom as you[re spinning out here if you consider all the facts.

Mike Lehman

Urbana, IL

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Posted by NWP SWP on Saturday, November 11, 2017 1:02 AM

I'm not saying MR is doomed if they don't up the page count but I'm just not walking away satisfied each month. I just would like to see maybe one or two reasonable length articles added, one maybe about model railroad life (human interest) and one about different model railroad clubs around the US and Canada. Just saying.

PS I love larger layouts so more articles about them would be great.

Modeling the combined lines of the Southern Pacific, Western Pacific, and Northern Pacific after a fictional Depression Era merger forming the SouthWestern Pacific and NorthWestern Pacific Railroads. SP, WP, and NP operations remain independent but also operate alongside NWP and SWP equipment.

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Posted by riogrande5761 on Saturday, November 11, 2017 2:09 AM

Old news. Time

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Posted by Sir Madog on Saturday, November 11, 2017 2:50 AM

Perception is a very personal matter, so there is no arguing about your position.

The real challenge for a publisher of hobby magazines is not only to compensate for the missing revenue, but also to find content to publish. Fewer people seem to take the time and write up an article these days. The Internet has taken some of that away in form of forums, but also personal web pages and layout building blogs.

   Ulrich     

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Posted by DSchmitt on Saturday, November 11, 2017 3:07 AM

NWP SWP
has MR lost weight in the almost two decades since those issues? I figure at the turn of the century and millennium MR fluctuated from 125 to 175 pages so an average of 150 now MR is consistently under 100 and in the ball park of 80 to 90 pages. So MR has lost maybe 70 or so pages therefore that's about a fifty percent reduction in material.

 

The period you are comparing to was the high point in page count.  Throughout most of it's life MR was smaller than it is today. 

I tried to sell my two cents worth, but no one would give me a plug nickel for it.

I don't have a leg to stand on.

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Posted by IRONROOSTER on Saturday, November 11, 2017 6:04 AM

Page counts for December issues

Dec 71 - 108, my first year

Dec 80 - 208

Dec 90 - 254

Dec 00 - 184

Dec 09 - 116, the last issue in the DVD (no longer available)

Dec 17 - 88, the current issue

So yes MR has shrunk considerably from it's peak in the early 90's.  While it's true that there were more ads, there was also more content.

I, too, would like more content, but I suspect that the business realities prevent this. 

However, MR does put out a number of special issues and more hobby books than it used to.  If you keep up with these, you'll get a lot more content to go with the magazine.

Paul

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Posted by emdmike on Saturday, November 11, 2017 6:34 AM

Magazines are quickly becoming an endangered species!  As much as I enjoy the convience of online, being able to find brass models and trade among friends as the next guy.  I dislike taking a tablet or laptop to that room were we all must spend some time each day.  I keep a nice pile of old Model Railroaders and Rail Model Craftsmans in a basket to read.  I myself am stuck in the 1960's thru early 1980's with the product I buy for the most part.  So the current issues do not appeal to me.  I like craftsman kits, older brass motive power and anything logging or traction related.  I do pick up a current issue from time to time when there is something in there I can use or want to have in my collection of magazines.  And this goes for all my hobbies, not just model trains.   The RC car side of the hobby magazines have gotten lighter in recent years, the paper has a grainy feel and not the nice shiny gloss of years ago.   

 

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Posted by RR_Mel on Saturday, November 11, 2017 8:56 AM

My view of the print media is that not much of it will survive the upcoming changes over the next decade or so.  Almost everyone wants everything instantly today and prefers the computer/internet access for instant viewing.  Even I have shifted a bit in that direction and I’m 80.  I still prefer the printed magazine to having to turn pages on my computer. Sad
 
With failing eyesight the smaller screens of tablets and such are out of the question for me.  My last eyeglass perspiration for 12” reading doesn’t work for tiny text so that states what I have to use to be able view my hobby stuff, thus my 24” monitor and the Ctrl/+ keys. Big Smile
 
As the adds drop because the add payer gets more bang for his buck by advertising elsewhere the print media will slowly evaporate. Crying
 
We are living in the high tech world guys adapt or do without.  As much as I hate it I’m forced to adapt. Super Angry
 
I love to visit model railroad blogs and I spend a lot of time viewing them, I can’t do that near as well in the world of printed media.
 
Just be happy with how the Model Railroader Magazine is guys, its still a great magazine even though it is getting a bit smaller.   Big SmileThumbs Up
 
Mel
 
Modeling the early to mid 1950s SP in HO scale since 1951
 
My Model Railroad   
 
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Posted by selector on Saturday, November 11, 2017 11:07 AM

Mel wrote "...My last eyeglass perspiration for 12” reading doesn’t work for tiny text..."

Yup, it's official...you need them glasses.  Laugh

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Posted by maxman on Saturday, November 11, 2017 11:19 AM

emdmike
I do pick up a current issue from time to time when there is something in there I can use

And this is something that doesn't help the process.  I'm sure that there are some here who rarely purchase the magazine, yet they take advantage of the free forum.  And then they complain that they are bothered by "spam" that follows along with signing up for the forum.

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Posted by BroadwayLion on Saturday, November 11, 2017 11:51 AM

LION has a mag rack on the bathroom door of him. It is filled with MRs. Him reads when sitting, can't do that with a 'puter. LION wouyld not think of looking for his MR content on the 'puter no matter how many puters the LION runs.

 

Go PRINT, it is GREAT!

 

ROAR

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Posted by BroadwayLion on Saturday, November 11, 2017 11:55 AM

selector

Mel wrote "...My last eyeglass perspiration for 12” reading doesn’t work for tiny text..."

Yup, it's official...you need them glasses.  Laugh

 

 

LION kneads glasses for driving, and needs his mediau distance adjusted for computer reading, but for books and general reading, LION takes glasses off of him.

 

Him now has 'glasses-on-a-string' and they spend more and more time around the neck of him.

 

Now SMALL PRINT, that is a problem. Gotta keep a magnifier in the pocket of.....

 

WAIT... LIONS do not have Pockets!

 

GRRR

 

 

ROAR

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Posted by BRAKIE on Saturday, November 11, 2017 12:39 PM

What I miss in MR is Bull Session,Paint Shop and the yearly "A Railroad You Can Model article."

Yes,the MR of yore was cram full of multi page ads from AHC,Standard Hobby,Train World,Long's Drug Store,Hobbies For Men and so many one page ads for me to remember.

I would like to see more modeling projects like loads of all type and other simple but,needed projects.

 

Larry

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Posted by NWP SWP on Saturday, November 11, 2017 12:53 PM

For me the problem is if MR went to digital only I would probably no longer be a subscriber. That's because I don't have the Internet access to download and view all those issues. Plus a paper magazine has a certain appeal to it. Not to mention if you wanted to copy an article for future reference.

Modeling the combined lines of the Southern Pacific, Western Pacific, and Northern Pacific after a fictional Depression Era merger forming the SouthWestern Pacific and NorthWestern Pacific Railroads. SP, WP, and NP operations remain independent but also operate alongside NWP and SWP equipment.

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Posted by Graham Line on Saturday, November 11, 2017 2:25 PM

Do your own comparison.

Sit down with a 1990 issue and one from 2015, then count up the full ad pages and the stories.

It doesn't take too many Hobbies for Men or America's Hobby Center ads etc. to add up to two dozen. Feature columns like Student Fare, Paintshop, the old guys around the stove column, etc. have disappeared but not all of these were hard-core modeling material.

Then compare the staff listings at the front of the magazine, and see how many people MR has to work with these days.

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Posted by NWP SWP on Saturday, November 11, 2017 2:37 PM

I will. I think in part MR might have more limited resources so we as patrons and modelers should work on writing up articles for MR would you agree?

Modeling the combined lines of the Southern Pacific, Western Pacific, and Northern Pacific after a fictional Depression Era merger forming the SouthWestern Pacific and NorthWestern Pacific Railroads. SP, WP, and NP operations remain independent but also operate alongside NWP and SWP equipment.

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Posted by BMMECNYC on Saturday, November 11, 2017 3:27 PM

Graham Line

Do your own comparison.

Sit down with a 1990 issue and one from 2015, then count up the full ad pages and the stories.

It doesn't take too many Hobbies for Men or America's Hobby Center ads etc. to add up to two dozen. Feature columns like Student Fare, Paintshop, the old guys around the stove column, etc. have disappeared but not all of these were hard-core modeling material.

Then compare the staff listings at the front of the magazine, and see how many people MR has to work with these days.

 

+1

And I decided to do that.

Dec 1990 Issue

258 pages total

128 pages of adds (approximate, some were 75%+ with a half column of material I accounted for this by not counting every one as an add only page)  Over half of the 128 pages were full page advertisements.

8 pages of classifieds  (most of which were 50% adds, not counted in the above adds)

12 Pages of Hobby retailers (no adds, just a list of retailers)  

1 entire page listing the advertisers

Which leaves about 109 pages of content (many of which were 30%+ advertisements).  Of which a number of pages were dedicated to Kalmbach video sales and back issue of MR available...

If you look through the current MR....

There are a lot fewer adds and MR has shifted to presenting their bookstore/video store/backissues differently.  There are not 12 pages of hobby retailers (its one or two now).

Also they just ran the "A railroad you can build" article recently".   Steven Otte mentioned it in the last "OMG MR magazine is dying because it isnt 50% advertisements anymore" thread.

I prefer the MR that is actually readable, and I dont have to spend time looking for the article I was reading.

 

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Posted by NWP SWP on Saturday, November 11, 2017 3:43 PM

I see that there a lot of opinions on this, it's interesting to see the ups and downs in page count and how tech has affected the magazine and hobby. 

Modeling the combined lines of the Southern Pacific, Western Pacific, and Northern Pacific after a fictional Depression Era merger forming the SouthWestern Pacific and NorthWestern Pacific Railroads. SP, WP, and NP operations remain independent but also operate alongside NWP and SWP equipment.

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Posted by BMMECNYC on Saturday, November 11, 2017 4:14 PM

NWP SWP

I see that there a lot of opinions on this, it's interesting to see the ups and downs in page count and how tech has affected the magazine and hobby. 

 

 

The digital archives subscription is a great way to look into this.  All 1008 issues (and counting).   I havent even begun to read half of them.  

You would be suprised how often the topic of MR's length comes up on the forums.

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Posted by BRAKIE on Saturday, November 11, 2017 4:22 PM

BMMECNYC
I prefer the MR that is actually readable, and I dont have to spend time looking for the article I was reading.

As do I and I remember some of those overstuffed magazines the pages would come lose from the binding..

Larry

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Posted by Dave Vollmer on Saturday, November 11, 2017 6:38 PM

I still remember 6-page ads from Standard Hobby Supply, and they weren't the only ones running multi-page full inventory ads.  Those sorts of ads aren't really needed in the Internet age...  Imagine if M B Klein tried to fit their current inventory into an ad...it would completely subsume the issue.

MR does seem a little thin these days but the quality of the photography and the modeling therein is as good or better than it was "back in the day."  Also a lot of the "good stuff" is now in MR Video Plus.  Maybe it's time to stop thinking of it as just a magazine and consider it as more of a multi-faceted platform.

Modeling the "Scenic Route to Leadville, Aspen, Glenwood, Salt Lake, and Pacific Coast."

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Posted by Marc_Magnus on Sunday, November 12, 2017 5:33 AM

NWP SWP
NWP SWP wrote the following post yesterday: I was going through some old issues from the beginning of the millennia is it just me or has MR lost weight in the almost two decades since those issues?

 

For start, where are you going MR ???

 

I can only and sadly agree with you.(your quote)

Of courses, the reasons are numerous and sure internet does'nt help paper publications; it's true on the whole world.

But I feel MR has forget somewhere his appealling articles about our little trains.

Many sections of MR have dissappear the last years, like the model of the month, symposium of electronics, building or kitbashing specific kit articles, tuning locomotives and the list is great.

Years ago, I published a post on this forum about " Is MR becoming to basic?"

This post was made because like many of us, we see the repetitive articles in MR about the same subjects with no, or nearly no progress in the approach and techniques.

The all year layout building project which is just a small tabletop layout with nearly no countours, mountains or scratchbuild parts, come every time on a plywood panel or a door size table, is repetitive really repetitive.

Where are so such appealing projects like the "Jerome and Soutwestern, the San Juan Central and even earlier the Clinchfield Nscale  RR", these layouts were appealing, they were so well explained with excellent techniques sometimes in advance on their time, this is about the year  layout project.

We can find the same poverty in the other sections which still exist in MR.

More graver and what strike me somewhat, is the complete lack about new techniques and new features used for building model trains.

MR mention often, Arduino, laser kit, Fasttrack, red rosin paper, servo's but we never see any articles about them.

No more "symposium of electronics", just the basic DCC help in a world where electronics and simple electronics are the rule and easy to use.

No articles or rarely small one, about LASER kit, but on each visit of a layout MR publish, we see laser kit, they are a great part of the market now.

Undless articles about weathering a car or a locomotives, but a structure need weathering and add ons details too, no or rarely articles about it.

Arduino is the future of animation in our world train, a few quotes about it in some basic articles, no more.

Fastrack, even if it's a commercial factory is mentionned on the MR forum each week, and literally monthly in articles in MR, no articles about them...

And servos, no how to do, no real articles about the use of servos; it's nearly 10 years now, that servos are introduced and now part of the train world.

This list is the subject I see in some other publications, even in Europe my country, and on well know online publications.

More questionning, is the fact, these subjects are more than often discussed on the MR forums, I invite You to take a look on the three "how to forum" of MR.

For sure the MR readers need informations on these subjects; what is MR waiting for publishing convincing articles about these subjects?

For sure there are 45 pages again to publish each month and no 45 pages of advertissements but pages of how to do and learning pages stuff, this would be a real MR again.

More subscribers and more results for the advertisers, if MR is really appealing.

In Belgium we have a train publications for only a few thousands readers, we are not a lot of train model maker here, but this publication "Train Miniature" is on the edge of how to, electronics, servo's and scratchbuilding from structure to locomotives and rolling stock, it does'nt exist online, just a small forum, but each month there are more readers in my little country because i'ts so appealing and contains a lot of learning stuff.

 

I'm a lover of MR, a long time subscriber of MR like my late father, and I still appreciate to receive and read my monthly MR, but I didn't have the same appeal  as before, I sadly must admit it, where are you going MR ????

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Posted by Brunton on Sunday, November 12, 2017 4:44 PM

When the page count begins to dwindle, it generally means there's a price increase coming. After the increase the page count will go up (often with some sort of marketing saying how MR is growing), but probably not quite as far as it went down. That has happened time and again. Check the back issues - you'll see the pattern.

Not being critical or anything - that's just how it usually seems to work.

Mark B.

Early morning passengers in Laurel MT awaiting the daily train to Frannie
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Posted by Metro Red Line on Sunday, November 12, 2017 6:11 PM

This is not an MR-only, or even a Kalmbach issue. Nearly ALL print publications are thinner now than they have been in the past 20-30 years. Even your local newspaper is much slimmer than it was at the turn of this century.

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Posted by BMMECNYC on Sunday, November 12, 2017 9:27 PM

Marc_Magnus
The all year layout building project which is just a small tabletop layout with nearly no countours, mountains or scratchbuild parts, come every time on a plywood panel or a door size table, is repetitive really repetitive.

Im just guessing here, but I think that MR's main market is the casual/beginner model railroader.  Otherwise you would see things like Proto87 wheelsets, Sergent couplers, superdetailed handlaid track (separately applied jointbars and tie plates), building a steam locomotive from brass etc.  

The layouts have to fit in their van so they can take them to shows, kind of limits what they can do.

Also Virginian Project Layout, had mountains, hills bridges, water features, kit bashing, and laser cut wood structures.  

Winston Salem Southbound (its next years layout) has already shown up in MRVP.

Plywood 4x8 is the "standard" beginner layout on this side of the ocean.  (I had an entire thread on that subject alone).  While not a fan of the 4x8, I get their point.  Most people have built or will build a 4x8.  Its where many people start.  

Marc_Magnus
No articles or rarely small one, about LASER kit, but on each visit of a layout MR publish, we see laser kit, they are a great part of the market now.

 

They did a whole video series on MRVP about building an American Model Builders caboose (Laser cut wood kit).  I think it was 9 parts, showed every single step of construction, even mistakes, all the way up to painting and decaling.

Marc_Magnus
Undless articles about weathering a car or a locomotives, but a structure need weathering and add ons details too, no or rarely articles about it.

MRVP videos about structure detailing. (WSS and others)

MR moved most of the detailed explaining into videos (some makes it to print).  Video is a better medium for teaching techniques and tips. 

 Gerry Leone does a monthy show on techniques and tips (speaking of), called off the rails.  

Marc_Magnus
Fastrack

Are you talking about the hand laid track company?  If so, just go to their Youtube channel....they tell you everything you need to know in their youtube video series, which is probably why MR doesnt do an article on it.  Fastracks own videos are more comprehensive than MR can posibly do in a series of print articles.

https://www.handlaidtrack.com/fast-tracks-videos

Tony Koester did a series on the Winston Salem Southbound project layout about handlaying track.  He doesnt use Fastracks jigs for any of it.  In case you hadnt checked them out, the fast tracks jigs are pricy.  Its about $200 or somewhere in that neighborhood to get all the tooling for the first turnout. 

I built my first handlaid turnout by watching those videos, then repeating the process.  I bought a couple of the fasttracks tools to speed the process.

Marc_Magnus
Arduino is the future of animation in our world train, a few quotes about it in some basic articles, no more.

Printing a sketch (I believe this is the proper term) would be a waste of paper, as you would have to type it back into a computer, but they could do one of those "online extra" things where you can download the sketch.  But they would have to pay someone to write it.  They would have to buy the legitimate Arduino boards (not really good form to use the clone in a published magazine).  

I wouldnt necessarily call it the future (on its own).  I would like to see a series of Arduino boards linked on a communication bus so that they can coordinate their actions, instead of a bunch of disjointed animations.  Maybe a controller area network...cough.

This months Sticky Stucco article was pretty neat.

In case anyone cares.

DEC 2017:

About 23 pages of advertisements out of 88 (Im counting the back page).

26% advertising..

Also the theme of this thread was mentioned in this months "build an Ambroid helium freight car kit".    And I want to thank them for that.  I now know what it takes to build one, and I have better things to do with 3 months of my free time (assuming I actually match the pace that Eric White achieved).  I'll just 3D print one if I want one...

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Posted by kasskaboose on Sunday, November 12, 2017 9:30 PM

Wow!  The number of issues wrapped up in this central topic is dizzying.  The quality v. quantity debate continues!  It doesn't matter to me the size of the magazine.  Who cares if the number of pages have decreaesd or fluctuated. Seriously?!!  How about a more inttellectual discussion about whether the consumers are enjoying MR, the discussions generated, etc.  Are you as a consumer happy?  

Perhaps I'm a member who grew up on the internet.  Some might say that my attention span is measured in tweets, memes, and other silly terms.   Wrong.  I like reading and like learning.  Do I need to read a seven or three page article?  Does it matter if I can walk away happy to have spent the time learning?

I don't care about the price for MR since the enjoyment I get sharing pictures with my young kids is invaluable.  You can shrink the magazine, but you can't shrink the fun factor.  #overmydeadbody

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Posted by mbinsewi on Sunday, November 12, 2017 9:44 PM

This topic comes up alot, has in the past, and will continue.  Think what you want, and the decision on where you spend your money, is up to you.  You can always submit your own articles and ideas.

I will renew mine, along with the archives.  I pass my old issues on to clinics, etc., and they are the first to "walk off".

Mike.

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