5 Reasons Why I Want to Print T.O.F.U. Magazine
Although I’ve certainly been asked the “why vegan?” question the most out of everything related to my veganism, I think the “why a vegan magazine?” question is solidly in second place. So, I don’t expect those stats to change, but another question that has come up more since I started the Patreon campaign is:
“Why do you want to go back to print?“
Although I’m sure my answer to each person that asked this question was a little different, I’ve come to realize that there are a few solid reasons why I’ve been putting so much time and effort into bringing the magazine back to being a printed publication like it was from issues 1-3. Since you’re reading this, I’ll assume you’re curious about those reasons, so here they are:
1) To Create Something Tangible
Maybe it’s just because I’m an old soul who grew up before the Internet was a big thing and even just one album from a band could barely fit in your pocket. Well, okay, maybe on cassette, but I’m not that old. CDs were more my jam, and jamming one of those into a pocket meant you better be standing while it was in there or that puppy would crack before your butt hit the seat.
What? The magazine? Oh yeah, I got a little off-topic there talking about the good ol’ days, didn’t I? My apologies.
To try and make it seem like I meant to do that, I’m going to talk for another minute about the fact that I still have CDs. Hundreds of them in fact. Just ask my father, and I’m sure he’ll tell you how many there are in storage at their place and just what he would rather do with the space. The point I’m getting at here is that I like tangible things, especially when it comes to some form of art or expression, and I just don’t get that same feeling from a PDF.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m proud of the magazine in general, and I love how surprised people have been when they’ve actually sat down to read an issue. I’ve been aiming for perfection since T.O.F.U. started, and I think the issues have continuously improved over the years.
However, I’m still always going to hold a special place in my heart for The Book of T.O.F.U. (and maybe the first three issues, even if I think they don’t represent the magazine any longer) because it’s something I can hold in my hands. To me, and maybe it’s my age showing itself again, that’s worth a little more..
2) To Name a Price
Years ago, when the magazine went digital, one of the reasons I made the decision to do so was because it allowed me to offer each issue through a pay-what-you-can (PWYC) platform, which meant there were fewer financial limitations between the magazine and you. Plus, Radiohead had done it, so why couldn’t T.O.F.U.?
Of course, one of the reasons Radiohead could do such a thing was because they were a well established, international musical act that was already making money through other avenues. So, even if the album made no money, it was still a good publicity stunt. As you probably know by now, the album did make money, and fans willingly put a price on the download.
For T.O.F.U., the PWYC system has not been nearly as profitable. A couple years ago, I broke down some of the numbers, and discovered that the average price paid for an issue was about $1 CDN (ignoring the cut that Paypal takes). Although some folks have suggested that people are hesitant to choose their own price because they don’t want to undervalue the product or pay more than other people, I still believe there is some merit in the idea that people don’t value digital goods as much as physical ones.
Personally, a good example of this can be found in the fact that I managed to raise over $5,000 to print The Book of T.O.F.U., despite the fact that the articles themselves were simply updated versions of content that was readily available digitally in the online store. Granted, most of the money raised went to printing and shipping the books, but the total still surpassed the sales of any past issues.
So, it seems T.O.F.U. has an audience that is interested in paying for a physical product, whether or not a cheaper, digital option exists, and I want to give readers such as yourself that option.
3) To Start Your Collection
Even with an audience, creating something with a set price means that attention has to be paid to the details and the quality of the item to justify the cost. In the case of the magazine, I hope that I’ve demonstrated my interest in making something great each time I’ve released an issue. Along with that, I like to think that The Book of T.O.F.U. stands as a statement on just how much quality means to me. From all the time I spent researching print shops that were environmentally friendly to the time I then spent working with them on the options to ensure the book itself left a small footprint, I knew that going back to print required even more attention to the little things. If you’re not lucky enough to have a copy of the book yourself, then maybe the simple fact that I went through nine rounds of editing with my designer, as well as an assistant editor, will help to show you just how serious I am about what I do.
All this is to demonstrate the fact that I want you to want the magazine. I want you to be happy to leave it on a coffee table in your living room, tuck it into a bookshelf next to other favourites, or read it on the subway. Whether that’s because of the high quality production, the photography and artwork, or the articles written by folks from around the world (or maybe all of the above), I feel like going to print will give you the reasons to want the magazine in your life issue after issue.
Seriously, when was the last time you appreciated the thumbnail of an album cover on your phone or took a moment to enjoy the feeling of the pages turning under your finger as you swiped on your Kindle?
4) To Require Attention
Although appreciating the magazine overall is certainly a goal, I also want you to feel that dedicating the time it takes to read the articles and view the artwork is worth it. Personally, I feel that the pieces will justify that on their own, but I know that getting someone to the point of reading them is a struggle. However, over the years I’ve been working with social media, I feel like it’s harder to gain that attention digitally, and it can even be costlier as well.
Since I know the amount of time that goes into producing each issue between the authors, artists, photographers, and myself, finding ways to get you to pay attention to the finished product is one of my biggest jobs. Plus, if I can play a part in giving you a little more time away from a screen where you are able to relax with a good read and a cup of tea in the bath, on your favourite couch, or curled up in the corner of a cafe somewhere, then that’s a win-win for me.
What other way can a publisher offer that experience than through print? It certainly doesn’t happen on a laptop, tablet, or smart phone with all the other apps you can run at the same time.
5) To Be In Good Company
When my former partner and I first started the magazine, we were inspired by Herbivore magazine, which was one of the only vegan publications we knew of. At the time, my partner would impatiently wait for the next issue to show up at our door every few months. Basically, she was in love with this little magazine from the other side of North America, and she was paying rather dearly to get it.
Sadly, somewhere around the time we started T.O.F.U., Herbivore stopped printing, which left our publication as one of the only vegan magazines we knew of anywhere. Of course, there were probably other publications somewhere in the world, but in our eastern corner of Canada, we didn’t know about them.
Now, there are numerous vegan publications, and they cover plenty of topics. If you want a good idea of just how many there are, you can start with the list Vegan For All Seasons made.
From my friends at Driftwood Magazine, xclusivx fanzine, and Project Intersect to plenty of great publications coming out of Europe, Australia, and other parts of the world, the vegan magazine market is growing, and it’s happening in print.
To be clear, I’m not looking to go back to print so I can compete with any of these publications. I think we all have a place to exist in the vegan/animal rights community, and I look forward to supporting many of these magazines in the future. I want to be in print so that T.O.F.U. can sit next to them as part of your great vegan lit collection. Obviously, you have one of those, right? If not, I hope you realize today is a great time to start!
In fact, if you think I’ve given some convincing points and you love what T.O.F.U. does, you can consider subscribing to the magazine to help me reach the goal of going to print! For as little as $1/issue, you can play a part in helping the magazine join all the other great vegan publications that are spreading the message around the world, one beautiful, tangible issue at a time.
To subscribe, please visit the Patreon campaign page here.