Sellout!? Page 2

We have, you will note, made this issue a bit fatter than usual to compensate, somewhat, for its lateness. But please, don't expect an 80-page issue every 3 months. We'll never go back to our original 32-page count, but neither have we any intention of getting involved in an obesity race with our "competitors." We try, most of the time, to make our copy brief and concise rather than sprawly and verbose, and we'll have another 80-page issue only if:

(1) We are deluged with ads, and must add extra text pages to maintain a decent ad/text ratio, or

(2) There is too much to report on within the confines of a 60 to 70-pager.

FYI: Note also that, as of this issue, we are obliged once more to raise our rates, for all the usual reasons. We're raising them a bit more than is necessary to offset rising costs, for two reasons: First, we don't want to have to raise them again this coming year when the next round of annual (or semiannual) Post-Office rate hikes come round again. And second, we are going to start buying outstandingly good articles for publication in the magazine, and we have other plans for expansion and diversification that will cost, too. The result, you will find, will be an even more interesting and informative Stereophile than previously. Some of our plans for the future are detailed herein, some will come as pleasant surprises.

Remember, this publication is for your benefit. Let us know what you'd like to see in it.

Manufacturers' Ads: We have already demonstrated that we could accept advertising from equipment dealers without losing our editorial integrity. How would you as a reader react to the idea of our accepting ads from manufacturers?

We would do this, if we did it at all, with two stipulations: That no ad for a specific product may appear in the issue in which it was reviewed, and if an advertising contact is cancelled as the result of a review, we would report this fact in the magazine.

Taking manufacturers' ads could allow us to take on enough staff to get the magazine out unflaggingly on schedule, expand it considerably in coverage, and undertake some peripheral special projects we are considering, such as a line of specialized test and demo records for the audio perfectio¢nist.

Let us know what your reaction would be, but please consider your answer before replying. We know the temptation to go off half-cocked and scream "Sellout!" Please don't. But do let us know how you feel about this, via a letter or postcard.—J. Gordon Holt

A letter in response appeared in Vol.4 No.1 (December 1977):

Sundry Cavils

Editor: I am very disheartened to see that you are about to accept manufacturer advertising. Don't we learn anything from the sad example of the slicks? Why is it so hard to learn that it goes against human nature to bite the hand that feeds? You may have come up with all sorts of fancy rationalizations to permit you to feel fine about taking manufacturer ads, and as a cheap shot you try to divert us from the real issue by intimating (not really promising) that this will help get the magazine out on time.

I don't believe that it's any more reasonable to believe that accepting this sort of advertising will make it more likely that you will get the magazine out on time than it is to believe that Stereophile will be unlike other magazines that accept manufacturer advertising.

Perhaps the Discwasher-disc-ad cover [Vol.3 No.12, Spring 1977, featuring Telarc's first direct-to-disc LP] is a harbinger of things to come? God knows, Stereophile is by now full enough of ads. And as for getting the magazine out on time, your track record in that regard is already too well known to any of your old subscribers to permit them to credit any new claims on that score; we've heard that tune before, and yet the magazine fails to arrive. If anything, the publication record seems to have gotten worse in recent years. The delay between the current issue and the last one is downright unconscionable.

You say manufacturer ads are going to remedy this? We'll believe it when we see it. The really sad thing about your failure to get Stereophile out on anything resembling a responsible publishing schedule is that, what with the proliferation of high-end products, you get ever farther and farther behind in keeping your readers abreast of the high-end market there is an ever-increasing backlog of worthwhile high-end equipment that you don't review. You are already so far behind it begins to look like an almost impossible task to catch up.—David A. Kemp

The issue in which this letter appeared, Vol.4 No.1, celebrating 15 years of publication, was the first to include ads from manufacturers: featured were AGI, Audionics of Oregon, db Systems, Dynaco, H&H International (importer of JR Loudspeakers), Infinity, and M&K.—Ed.

J. Gordon Holt offered a partial explanation for the magazine's perennial lateness in April 1979 (Vol.4 No.4):

Where We Are

To answer those of you who have been wondering where the hell we've been hiding for all these months, the answer is: We moved. To Santa Fe, New Mexico. Away from the dampness and crowding and pollution of the middle-Atlantic coast to the heart of the Sun Belt. We like it here, but the move was a minor disaster.

Much of the equipment necessary for testing got damaged or destroyed in transit. What had promised to be a superb listening room turned out to have some sticky acoustical idiosyncrasies, and proved impossible to heat properly (during the coldest NM winter in over a decade). Once we got the listening area in shape, it took some time to familiarize ourselves with its acoustic properties, so we could be assured that what we were hearing was the system and not the room. (How'd you like us to be evaluating stuff if we weren't sure of that, hey?)

Anyway, we finally got things straightened out and underway, and are in fact better equipped now to test components and review records than we have ever been. This will allow us to turn out more, and more reliable, reports than in the past. And since ours have been the most reliable in the field to date, that's a strong statement to make.

There are already two full reports completed for the next issue. We are aiming at 10, as well as the expectation that issue Vol.4 No.5 will be out about 7 to 8 weeks after this one. You don't have to believe that. But just wait and see.

Finally, our apologies to those of you who had to write and inquire about our state of health, as well as to the rest of you who didn't but were wondering anyway. We're sorry we were late again. But this time we don't really see how it could have been avoided. Like Avis, we learned that when you try harder you don't always do much better.

Our new address? It's on the back cover, since no one elected to take an ad there this time.—J. Gordon Holt


dalethorn's picture

If I remember the note in the inside correctly, it stated that the cover featured one Alicia Holt, AKA "The Stereofilly" (or possibly the Stereophilly). Holt mentions that "We're late" one or more times, but in one issue I recall, he says "Happy New Year (just don't ask which year)". These little magazines were a treasure - I see two components listed on the cover that I subsequently purchased. I hope that in the not-too-distant future Stereophile will feature the cover containing a series of humorous puns ("Distortion, Dat Torsion" etc.)

Wanderlust2000's picture

That comment makes me think.. Wouldnt it be 'cool' if Stereophile's covers brought an element of hobby, humour, and kitch back to the publication? Maybe step away from the polished, glam, big-time mood of most covers just a bit? Nothing wrong with occasionally seeing a person using some of this mega (or not-mega) gear once in a while, in its setting where it was or is being listened to, perhaps? It might make things seem a little more real, fun perhaps.. Just a thought.