Re: The Glory Days Of "Fine Woodworking" Are Behind Us

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Larry Jaques wrote:

ROTFLMO! It won't be too long before the only way for TV will be up!
Grant
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"Grant P. Beagles" > wrote >

You mean there will be life after "reality" television??
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Really?
From what perspective are you standing when you look over at FWW on it's journey and say "Hey you! You're going the wrong way!"
Maybe you're the one moving away?
Like Albert said: "It's all relative and depends on your frame of reference!"
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The word Parody just made me sit up straight. So did "The Ultimate Blurfl"
Please expand?
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Dude, Threads totally rocks. Way better than any other sewing magazine!
-Holly
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote in

http://www.taunton.com/thetauntonpress/our_culture.asp
I don't think they belong to Time Warner...
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This has been one of the most interesting and possibly the longest message exchanges I have ever seen on this message group. I am a happy amateur who got his first computer in the mid 80's and decided in 1987 to set up a data base I could organize by subject, source, date, and page. I subscribe to both FWW and Wood, which to my surprise has not been mentioned in this exchange. My data base lists only articles I think will be of future use to me. Here are the results:
FWW: Earliest listing: Nov 1987, #67. Nr. Articles: 179.
Wood: Earliest listing: Apr 1987, #16. Nr. Articles: 233 .
I realize this count applies only to me, but it does say something about the FWW focus on artsy fartsy versus practical.
Bob Moody
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Interesting obseration, Bob.
For you, more practicle articles have a greater future value and longevity than esoteric articles, detailing less of the "how".
In my experience, FWW articles do tend to gloss over the dimensions and details of construction, tending to favour the description of the process of building. I guess that you find that you can reproduce the results of Wood projects faster and better than FWW projects because of this detail.
Many articles in FWW of the past few years have been basic. Taunton Press seems to target a readership of beginner to intermediate amateur level rather than the intermediate to advanced amateur/professional level that articles in early FWW targetted. And maybe this reflects on FWW's change of philosophy, IMO.
The title "Fine WoodWorking" implies a lot to me. It says the content of this publication is targetting an audience which considers itself beyond the beginner stage. The reader fancies him/herself as having learnt the basics of the trade and is now ready to hone their skills to the next level, to move from apprentice level to master level. So, what are beginner articles doing in this magazine, one may ask? If you are an advanced woodworker, maybe step-by-step text and dimensioned drawings found in other publications like Wood are something you don't need because you can infer the dimensions and construction process based on your expertiese. Time was you only found FWW at niche woodworking places like Lee Valley Tools stores, Garrett-Wade and by subscription; now they are available in Home Depot and Chapters. Maybe FWW has dumbed down to attract a wider readership, the people who frequent these outlets, and greater circulation numbers.
wrote:

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Rob wrote:

Yes, I don't recall just when, but during the "makeover phase" there were several editorials indicating their intent to try to appeal to a "broader" audience. That of course, means precisely more routine and mundane construction articles and the much higher concentration on reviews...

Yep, they announced it as they were doing it--as noted, I recall the editorials although I can't point to specific issues.
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Duane Bozarth wrote:

WoodenBoat magazine dealt with this and they did it right, I think:
They, too, had slowly migrated to the big, multiple tens of thousands of dollar rebuild articles, or build-from-scratch articles. Beginners were left way behind. Someone who just wanted to start out and maybe learn how to build a simple boat were out of luck.
To fix that they started an Apprentice Corner where, each issue, they would tackle basic operations, like plank replacement. They also have multi-issue articles on building smaller boats.
I think it's a good mix now. FWW can do the same thing.
--
Saville

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gregg wrote:

OTOH, FWW didn't "migrate" <to> high-end work, that (almost exclusively) was the initial focus--hence the name.
They've gone the artsy/environmental trend and now looking more to the masses. While total circulation is probably up, it's likely coming at least partly at the expense of former long-time readers. Of course, that was a niche market and was self-limiting, so if corporate objectives are revenue-enhancement-driven, they have no choice to meet that objective in all likelihood.
How much longer I'll hang in there is becoming more and more an issue each year for the same reason--too much of the low-level stuff, while not bad in of itself, it is simply becoming a magazine for a target audience of which I may no longer be a member to the extent it is not worth the expenditure...
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Duane Bozarth wrote:

How FWW and WB got there is rather irrelevant to my point which was to say they got to, or started at, the high end and found it wasn't optimal for circulation.
But your point about maybe it's simply no longer the mag for your level is well taken.
--
Saville

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gregg wrote:

But I think it quite relevant that the evolution in FWW at bequest of circulation (apparently) is in essence changing the fundamental nature of the magazine from its founding whereas (as I understood your example) the WB seemed more to be returning closer to its roots. That is, the fact that there appears to have been a concsious effort to change the fundamental premise seems relevant to me. But not knowing WB at all, I may have misinterpreted...
...
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Duane Bozarth wrote:

I can't say how WB started out because I hadn't subscribed that far back. I've been with them since the late 80's and for most of that their articles were mid-to high level of complexity and cost.

Well I guess I don't have an expectation that most mags are going to adhere to the beginning premise, though I'm sure there are some that have.
My experiences have been the opposite:
With WB, Photography mags, and now FWW, I've seen them all go to or return to less complex/less costly project articles in an effort to increase circulation.
ymmv
--
Saville

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Rob wrote:

To attract beginners, obviously. And those beginners enjoy the more advanced articles at least as much as the pros do. In fact, we tend to save the issues, with the hope of eventually getting up to the skill level required for a really fine piece of work.
I would be interested in knowing how one might determine whether an article is for a beginner or not. For example, a piece on hand planes and scrapers is good for even the _pros_ who don't use these tools very often.
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On Sat, 25 Jun 2005 00:57:14 +0000 (UTC), Andrew Barss

A good magazine, and I do buy it occasionally. But I'm not much into cabinetmaking since I retired through ill-health - a bit or woodturning and scrollwork is usually my limit these days. I haven't done any proper cabinet work in many years - just don't care to start what I may not be able to finish - though I did manage a pretty nice (if I do say so myself) pendulum cradle for my new grandson last year, if that counts. And with a new face in the family, there'll probably be some toys in the offing.
My late father was a cabinetmaker by trade - I inherited his enthusiasm, if not all of his skill. But that doesn't stop me from buying FW ... and occasionally Furniture & Cabinetmaking ... and The Woodworker ... and Traditional Woodworking ... and a few others, if only to dream about what I might make next! I sometimes feel as though it's all dreaming, until the wife points out all the stuff around the house I've made over the years.
I don't have a subscription to anything - I'd far rather inspect magazines on the shelf and buy carefully - though shrink-wrapping is making that increasingly difficult.
I claimed I rarely threw a copy of FW away. That was a bit of a cheat. I never throw ANY woodworking magazine away - her indoors plays hell about the growing mountain. Not to mention enough books to beggar a public library.
I leaf through them all regularly - on the days I'm not fit for the workshop I can at least fantasise about it! And - even with stuff I've read 100 times - I nearly always come up with something 'new'. Or perhaps just something my farty old brain had forgotten. But what the hell - whatever works. Anything's better than daytime TV!
John
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