Is This Any Way to Run a Railroad?
While I have never run a railroad, I am guessing that publishing a magazine is like running a railroad. You have an assortment of diverse customer needs, you have a limited budget, and you need to offer the best possible service to everyone.
But the parallel goes beyond that. In the railroad business you can make up your train out of an assortment of different cars, and based on the number of cars and the terrain you must travel through, you can pick the number of engines to pull it. As publisher of LJ, I get to pick the article mix, pick the number of pages, and pick who receives the magazine. If I do my job right, LJ gets more customers, which gets it more revenue—revenue from advertisers as well as readers—and everyone benefits.
All that said, I want to tell you what has changed at LJ, why it has changed and what you will see in the future. And, for our old customers, I want to assure you that you will continue to get the service you expect.
We take the tag line on the cover (“The Monthly Magazine of the Linux Community”) seriously. I fought for this before Issue 1 was published, and I continue to fight to make sure we stay on track. Today, however, that community is changing and we need to respond to those changes. While there is still a large Linux development community, there are other easily-identifiable “communities” needing a reliable source of Linux information. Here are a few:
Linux (and Unix) novices
Embedded systems builders
Let's take one example, web developers, and see why it is important that we give them the information they need. Linux is an ideal platform for developing web content and Linux systems make ideal web servers. But web developers have choices. When someone says, “Why should I use Linux instead of NT for my web server?” we need to have a good answer. Being able to point at books like CGI Programming in C & Perl, by Thomas Boutell, a Linux user himself, helps. Being able to show the person that a monthly magazine called Linux Journal will answer ongoing questions, offer sources for essential hardware and software, and generally offer needed support is another important part of the answer.
The first major change is that we are taking over the Linux Gazette. For those of you not familiar with it, LG is a newsletter. LG has offered an assortment of quick tips and articles that, while useful, have appealed to a smaller segment of the Linux community. We have always considered their work to be complementary to ours.
John Fisk, the creator of the Gazette, has run out of time to produce it and we struck a deal whereby LG can continue as a vendor-independent source of information. Its new home will be http://www.ssc.com/lg/, and its new editor will be Marjorie Richardson. She can be reached at email@example.com.
In addition, a new editor and a new home, there will be other changes to the Gazette. While we will continue to offer an on-line version, we intend to include part of the Gazette in the pages of Linux Journal. We will offer the information we consider of the greatest interest, and pointers to additional on-line information.
The way our community grows is by getting new people up to speed. We used to have a novice column. It just sort of faded away. We knew it was needed and with the introduction of “Novice-to-Novice”, we've done something about it. John Fisk is writing some articles for the series, as well as at least one other author. You can suggest new topics by sending e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or by writing to us.
When each new Linux distribution comes out there is a flood of new questions. We have started a tech answers column where vendors and consultants will answer the common questions that arise. If you have a question, you can send it to email@example.com, mail it in or fill out a form on our web page.
The most common question for a beginner is: “What should I buy?” For someone who has been working with Linux for some time, this is a common question as well—the query is just more likely to be about an ISDN board or scanner than a Linux distribution. We are encouraging vendors to send us products to review and hope to keep up with the new product releases so we can help you make product selections.
Finally, we are producing a larger magazine. That means we will have more space for the new columns and more reviews. What makes this possible is more income. We are growing as fast as we can right now, but we need you to do your part. Buy your boss a subscription. Tell a fellow Linux user about us. And when you buy something for Linux tell the vendor that you found out about him in Linux Journal. That's the way it all happens.
We have other changes in the works as well. Watch for information on them in the December issue, or watch for news flashes on our web site. With your help we can continue to be the Linux resource you need as well as a tool that helps show others that Linux has become a real part of the computing industry.