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Thread: Why are the best photo mags all from the UK?

  1. #1
    Scott Stephen's Avatar
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    Why are the best photo mags all from the UK?

    It's funny. The best photo magazines on offer here in the US are all imports from the UK.

    Digital Photo.
    Advanced Photographer.
    Etc.

    That would be fine except that with the exchange rate, or the shipping cost, or something, the subscription price is about 8 times what an American magazine would be. (And you don't get the free brolly as a gift with your subscription either!)

    Being English-language publications, you'd think they would be more aggressive about conquering the biggest English-speaking market in the world. Especially as the domestic competition here is soft. They could set up a printing/publishing plant in the states to cut shipping costs and then they could sell a millions more of them, rather than mailing them all across the ocean. That is how national newspapers do it. Just give all the equipment prices in both Pounds and Dollars and you're done.

    Perhaps they will take this advice, it will add millions to the UK's GDP, and they will knight me for my service. Or just let me drive James Bond's car.

  2. #2
    Glenn NK's Avatar
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    Re: Why are the best photo mags all from the UK?

    Very interesting Scott. I haven't looked at photo mags for ages - I subscribed to Pop Photo in the early sixties (when Ansel Adams would have articles in it).

    I've always felt that for the price paid, there wasn't enough hard, useful, and non-biased information to make them worthwhile. And with the advent of the internet and forums such as this, one can acquire more useful, more accurate, and somewhat less biased information online.

    That being said, one must always be thinking about and assessing the information on forums to sort the grain from the chaff (or the absolute nonsense). And like mags, there IS some absolute nonsense on forums - at least it's free nonsense.

    Glenn

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    Re: Why are the best photo mags all from the UK?

    A good point, Scott. Being an English xpat, I know what you mean. I remember mags over there ("Wireless World" springs to mind) that dig deeply into the subject and from which you could really learn.

    Over here, I believe that the once-mighty Dollar rules (surprise) via the heady subject of circulation. Also, there appears to be a national dislike of having to think about anything complicated. Instead, instant dumbing down of any subject is the rule. Public TV's educational programs merely skim over the surface of the content, even though the subject could be String Theory or Relativity.

  4. #4
    ajohnw's Avatar
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    Re: Why are the best photo mags all from the UK?

    I used to take wireless world and one day went in to smiths to buy the latest issue and couldn't see it. I asked an assistant where it was and she looked very worried and even tool a step backwards behind the till. It was taken over by a US company and watered down to an unbelievable level - still is today - Electronics Design. The assistant was worried because many people had been very abusive. Extremely so it seemed. All happened with no warning what so ever. It's a very sad loss. In fact to achieve fame in the UK electronics world a design and construction article in wireless world was a necessity. Even Dolby allowed them to breach his patent by allowing them to print an article on the complete design of a home made noise reduction systems that actually worked more effectively than the commercial items. The articles were very educational and taught people all sorts of things about electronics. The designs were also often the best achievable as well in what ever sphere they covered.

    I used to buy amateur photographer regularly but I find that the modern mags even in the UK don't really match up with that. Which wouldn't be hard really. My favourite was the Royal Photographic Society's journal. They sometimes had single articles on specific actual photographic techniques. Lecturers on the local club circuits were also very useful. Many would talk freely about the techniques they used.

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  5. #5
    Mito's Avatar
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    Re: Why are the best photo mags all from the UK?

    It's the same here in Spain. A magazine which costs GBP5 is sold here for €11. British newspapers, printed here in Spain cost 3 or 4 times their street price in the UK. There is a new quarterly on-line magazine produced by Craft and Vision. It's on a 4 for 3 offer this month. It is a magazine about photography not equipment. I like it.

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    Re: Why are the best photo mags all from the UK?

    It's frustrating Scott and it works both ways. Apple products are far more expensive in the UK than in the US, even though one of my Macs was built in Ireland.

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    Re: Why are the best photo mags all from the UK?

    Hi, When I lived in the UK I must have spent hundreds of on magazines and very good they where up-to the last 1/4 when it turned into a free for all advertising bomb.
    Now just search the web there are free photography mags out there (without the adds).
    http://www.photographybb.com/magazine/ for a start.
    I do agree with you that the prices are way OTT when you buy outside the UK.
    Russ

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    Re: Why are the best photo mags all from the UK?

    Hi Lady Scott

    Don't even talk about exchange rates. What do you think books and magazines, printed in the UK, cost us here? At X14 the UK price + profit for the store...............outrages!

  9. #9
    ajohnw's Avatar
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    Re: Why are the best photo mags all from the UK?

    I haven taken magazines from the USA at time especially Sky and Telescope. That is more expensive in the UK than in the US. Curious thing though it isn't like it used to be. Same with many magazines. They are now all mainly aimed at selling things in my view and also seem to have been dumbed down some what. They used to just have articles and often reviews with real test results plus lots of advertisements. These days I feel that they have to be careful what they say about items reviewed otherwise they wont get another what ever it is to test. I have seen web reviews that have been watered down at some point after they have become available as well..

    Nobody has mentioned the other thing about the UK - in general like this one the forums hosted hear are also often the best. I do know of one or two exceptions to that but as far as I am aware there isn't a uk equivalent of them.

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  10. #10
    Shadowman's Avatar
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    Re: Why are the best photo mags all from the UK?

    Find a friend who travels a lot, have them pick up the magazine at the airport and purchase it when they return.

  11. #11

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    Re: Why are the best photo mags all from the UK?

    I agree with the premise, and can offer no explanation, but perhaps there is enough interest in doing things the "right way" in the UK that publishers are still willing to put forth some effort at achieving excellence.

    FWIW; I noticed the same thing with newspaper reporting. The UK reporters are actually doing some reporting, whereas the US "stenographers" are simply not interested in doing the work that they are ostensibly being paid to do.

    Shadowman; that is an excellent suggestion, and since my son travels there and back quite a lot, I may ask him to do just that.

  12. #12

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    Re: Why are the best photo mags all from the UK?

    Mags provide info on "ho to do it", new equipment reviews and adverts.
    Well the How to do it is often aimed at the complete novice, who hasn't got round to buying a few good books, The equipment reviews are variable, too often give a sophisticated piece of kit to a novice to play with and too little real use, such as handling in real world. Adverts, well the net has taken over.
    So really why buy a mag now, they are expensive and often trite. Spend the money on a good book. For reviews look online, both the good sites but also the forums like this one where you find out the good and bad points of kit.

  13. #13

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    Re: Why are the best photo mags all from the UK?

    I've been buying the UK mags for a couple of years and have to agree they are a better choice for someone wanting to learn the basic to intermediate skills of photography. They are still full of slanted equipment reviews but offer a good level of information for me. When I first moved to digital I bought them all and learned quite a bit from them. Now that I'm a bit more comfortable with the digital world I put them in the same category as as I have had the US based ones for 40 years. Before I buy them they need to have something in them for me (and my money). Between photography and motorcycles (the epitome of biased reviews) I've had up to 7 current issues of magazines in the house every month. No longer do I blindly fork over $15.00 for a single UK issue, CD or not. A problem I encounter is some of the magazines are in a plastic bag. If someone hasn't ripped one open that I can flip through then I just bypass that issue. The only magazine I don't mind having a lot of ads, seemingly repetitive information and a large review smack in the middle is Playboy.

  14. #14
    John Morton's Avatar
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    Re: Why are the best photo mags all from the UK?

    I know what you mean but I am not sure that I agree. I've purchased lots of good UK photo magazines - 'Advanced Photoshop,' 'Photoshop Creative,'; and some that looked good on the surface but didn't really teach me anything new - 'Digital Camera,' 'Digital Photo.' On the whole, I still prefer a few American magazines: 'Photoshop User Magazine,' 'Shutterbug,' 'Photo Techniques,' and 'Outdoor Photographer' (to name a few).

    The UK magazines are more conversational and do a better job of getting new photographers up to speed; but the American magazines are better at hitting a level playing field where photographers are already up-to-speed, so-to-speak.

    After a few years, though, they all seem to recycle through the same themes and article emphasis... so one wonders if anyone is doing anything new there or just rehashing stuff they've already looked at...

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