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  • Update on issue #9

    Dear subscribers,

    I happy to announce that the wait is over and that issue #9 will be published and out in the post around August 15th. I apologize for the wait, and know that this and other issues will prove to be well worth the wait.

    I'd like to take this opportunity to put some things in perspective for everyone, and I hope that by the time you've read this post, that you'll understand. First off, I'd like to let you know that I've spent the past month dealing with some personal family issues back in the States. Those closer to me already know about this, and I won't go into details here. If you've mailed me during this time, you may or may not have received a response.

    Now after returning to Japan and combing through volumes of mail, I found a query from a subscriber that obviously had not received a response from me and had informed me that he had posted his displeasure at this on another board. After having a look at what the subscriber obviously wanted me to see, I can see that there is conjecture that Koi-Bito has gone the way of another competing magazine and shut it's doors. I'd like to put that rumor to rest right here and now. As I've said before, if we are ever to shut down, you will hear it first from me, and none of you will be left holding the bag. That's my promise, and people that know me know that I don't fool around concerning monetary matters. I'm not sure of the situation with the one magazine that's ceased publication, but running off in the middle of the night is not my style. I'm in this because I absolutely love koi, and the last thing in the world that I would want is for my name to tarnished in the koi world.

    So now that it's established that we're not going out of business, let's go on to the next point. I'm not sure what everyone thinks a magazine is or should be. How should it be marketed,published, run or what have you. Sometimes I get the impression that some of you are under the impression that we are a big operation that rivals the likes of Time or Vanity Fair. I can assure you that we are not. Nor are we a publisher that is into other subjects. 90% of the work that you see in the magazine is normally performed by myself and myself alone.

    So just hire more people you say? Believe me, if I could afford to do so, I would do so in a heartbeat. I have outsourced some of the work starting with this issue with regards to layout, and that has indeed helped out quite a bit. It is extremely costly and it is difficult to find talented people here that have enough understanding of the English language that I don't have to review their work with great scrutiny. So it is both costly and still time-consuming for me to contract the work out. Ideally, even if I found someone to work full or part time (dedicated) on the magazine, current revenues do not allow for this. Anyone that runs a business knows that you can't take on liabilities unless you see a definite payoff that far exceeds the risk. I don't run the magazine on debt, and never plan to.

    Why are revenues so low, you ask? Doesn't the magazine sell well? Indeed it does. However, Japan is a high-wage, high-cost country. I shouldn't have to tell anyone in the hobby of that fact. 40% of the cost of the magazine goes to postage. Almost 50% goes to prinitng costs. The remainder goes to production expenses, travel, procuring rights for photos/articles not originating from myself, equipment, card/bank fees, etc. For profit, I am left with less that 1%. When you consider donations, magazines lost in the post, or non-payment for product given on credit, we're actually into negative numbers. Having our base in Japan, there's no legal foundation for us to collect on bad debt/delinquency. We simply have to eat it. Some of you reading this post may be reading magazines or watching DVD's produced by us that have never been paid for. Believe it or not.

    Okay, so your magazine is head and shoulders above the competition (what I hear from subscribers, not my own words) with original content that's in-depth with beautiful photography...surely the advertisers must must be beating a path to your door? Well, now we're on to something. Advertising is how any magazine makes it's money. When you buy a magazine and look at the listed price on the front cover, what you are paying for is the printing, distribution, and reseller profit costs. Profit for the publisher comes from the many, many adverts you see inside. More times than not outnumbering any meaningful content. Why don't more people advertise with us you ask? There are several reasons. While I'm grateful to the few professionals that do support the magazine and don't wish to step on anyone's toes, I'll let you know these reasons.

    1) Dealers already advertise with their "local" magazine. Many countries have a national koi society that is affiliated with local clubs and also have a magazine produced which is distributed to their members automatically. The quality of these magazines is usually mediocre at best, but for reasons of traditions/politics/simplicity, many dealers feel obligated to advertise with these magazines first. Failure to do so would make them be seen as not being a "team player" with regards to supporting the local koi society. I understand and sympathize with this. However, I feel it's a shame as the content of these magazines tend to be very loosely thought out, or in some cases controlled by business interests. I'll leave it at that. Some dealers that would like to advertise with us simply can't afford to do so (even though I think that we're more reasonable with regards to advertising costs than most others) as they're locked into or strongarmed into supporting " the local" magazine.

    2) Many dealers enjoy and confirm the quality and depth of the magazine, but see no reason to advertise. It's amusing when I see dealers selling a certain breeders' koi a few months after publishing an article. This can only be expected, and in some ways I feel very flattered. What's I do not like and have a real problem with is people that use my hard work as a platform to promote their own business interests without paying for it. As it dilutes the value of advertising in the magazine to those that pay for it. It hurts me, my advertisers, and ultimately it hurts all of you as lost or unrealized revenue has a direct correlation to how quickly I can publish each issue. As a subcriber that I admire told me once "You shouldn't have to be anyone's doormat with regards to free advertisers". He was right on the money...it has to stop, and it is going to stop.

    There's more that I have to write, but I'll save that until I see some responses posted first. Again, apologies for the publishing delays. I thought I'd give you just a bit of insight into what goes into supporting Koi-Bito. I hope that you can understand a little better, and I'm ready for your comments and rebuttals.

    Very best,
    Brian Sousa
    Koi-Bito Forum
  • #2

    Hi Brian,

    Thanks for letting us know what's happening. I for one agree to KB being the best koi magazine out today. Our country are not as advanced in koi-keeping and if you want to learn you're better off reading about it in magazines and the internet than asking a fellow koi-keeper here.
    I look with envy at the filtration systems available for purchase in the UK,USA and even Australia and can only dream of winning the lotery in order to import me some.
    So you're magazine gives me the information that otherwise would not be available here and I am very thankfull for that.
    Now the big wait starts ,checking the mail daily for my next issue of Koi-Bito to arrive.
    Thanks for taking the chance, you are a brave man.
    Jaco Vorster
    South Africa

    Comment

    • #3

      Thank-you Brian, for the time and effort given to your answer. I have always been a supporter, and appreciate not only the content of the magazine but the honesty,candor and integrity that you bring to it.
      Dick Benbow

      Comment

      • #4

        I do not like the wait because I enjoy each issue so much. I'd much rather wait, however, than get a magazine filled with regurgitated content, superficial "color" stories and infomercials.

        It is the original and thorough content that makes K-B stand out.

        To get advertising, the advertiser needs a business reason to place the ad. If he thinks his customer base will see the ad in a mag where advertising is already placed, then why also place an ad in K-B? Well, if the advertiser is aiming for the higher level koikeeper, rather than the general watergardener with a few koi, K-B is where they will be found. Second, marketing experts agree that repetition is the key to getting through to the consumer. And, I for one will commit that I'll buy some of the koi food advertised in the next new ad in K-B. .... subscriber support helps!

        Comment

        • #5

          Brian, it's understandable....Being in publishing before it's a hard industry....Got say that with each delay you have never disappointed us one bit with the magazine's content. I hope all is well now with your family here in the states and I wish future success with the magazine.

          Tony.
          The world sleeps as the chance to learn something new passes.

          Comment

          • #6

            Brian,

            Thank you for the update.

            I immensely enjoy reading your publication. It is VERY original and I am extremely grateful for the depth of coverage in each issue. I appreciate that there are lots of things to consider/organise before you can even set out to research a topic: brainstorming an idea, research the topic, access to people, not to mention photos publications etc. I am sure I have missed many steps in the value chain so apologies if I have underestimated the work.

            You have my full support, for whatever it is worth and I look forward to the next publication!!

            Comment

            • #7

              I'd just like to say, Brian, that I sincerely hope your family issues are taken care of and that all is well.

              Cheers, mate, and best of luck.

              Newt
              Just my thoughts...

              NewtCity Message Board

              TheMudPond Board

              Comment

              • #8

                Only concern for me is - is my subscription up to date

                Keep them coming

                Comment

                • #9

                  I am with Grove and i think i mailed to find out as i was worried i would not receive the next issue and thats no good now is it.

                  Brian i can fully understand how difficult this is and how hard you have to work,people sometimes just think because you have some kind of business you make a bucket load of money (if you do or don't doesn't matter) and think you can just go out and get someone to help......what they don't realize is cost wages tax and all the other stuff that goes with it !!!!!!!!

                  Then there is because there is more of you then you must be able to make even more money been there seen it done it

                  Good luck to you Brian and hope all is well with you and the family .....just hurry up with the next issue .....and how will i know if me subs are paid!!!!!!
                  Regards

                  Gazza

                  Comment

                  • #10

                    Brian,

                    I used to be impatient with K-B but after your explaination before publishing issue #8, I have a lot of respect for you.
                    You hold a full time job(only those who have worked in Japan know how stressful it can be) and only doing K-B part-time for the love of this hobby and to share with fellow koi-kichi around the world on what is happening in Japan koi world.
                    I hope your family issue is not because you have lesser time for them.

                    The quality articles in K-B is not something that I can find easily in other koi mag. I have not finished on Asagi that was explained in issue #8. Personally, I feel that it is no good just reading through a high info article without really understanding it or putting it to practical use. So I shown what is written on Asagi in issue #8 to some local dealers who frequent Japan and they have patiently explained to me on the many area that I do not understand.

                    If I will to compare the quality articles content found in K-B than to other koi mag. that I also subscribed to, I would said that 1 issue of K-B is equivalent to 6 issue in other koi mag. Good articles in other koi mag. is like digging tons of soil just to find 0.1k of diamond. LOL.

                    K-B and Nishikigoi Monthly(the 1 in Japanese, yes I can read some Japanese) will be the only koi mag. that I will renewed the subscription.

                    SF

                    Comment

                    • #11

                      Hi Brian,

                      Hope everything at 'home' got sorted out OK.

                      Keep up the great work on the magazines. Like everyone says, it's the best magazine by far, none of us like waiting, but wait we will because we know it will be special.
                      Regards, Bob
                      ><{{{{º> ><{{{{º> ><{{{{º>
                      <º}}}}>< <º}}}}><

                      Comment

                      • #12

                        Hi Brian,

                        thanks for the good work. I for one agrees with the first reply that outsoucing the production of the magazine to other country where labor cost is much cheaper. The reason is that I felt you can use your time better concentrating on the content of the magazine, instead of spending your precious time on work that can be done quite well by professional in the magazine publishing industry.

                        I understand your philosophy of not wanting to be in debt. Why not find some partners or investor who will and can take some work and burden off of your shoulder in the meantime injecting some capital into the venture. I for one, do not want to see the failure of the magazine, and I also see that your current operating difficulties.

                        I also think, 40% of shipping cost is just not acceptable. Why not bulk ship subscriptions in USA to one location and then ship to subscribers in USA from that point. If this way saves even 20 of the shipping cost, I am willing to volunteer to do this free.

                        I also think you deserve far better rewards than 1% for the hardwork you put into this. And you can. There are always better and sometimes cheaper ways to do thing. We all strive to improve our koi keeping skills, why can't we also try to improve operating a magazine?

                        I have no intention to criticize the way you run your magazine, but it comes a time, that changing the way things are done ensures long term success of the venture.

                        I am a subcriber and bought all the available back issues of the magazine, I do not mind raising the price of the magazine, but it may price some of your subscribers out of it. So I am not for raising the price.

                        thanks
                        charlie

                        Comment

                        • #13

                          Originally posted by RogerMoo
                          1st thing 1st: Yep, thank you for your sincere apologies. Koi-Bito is definately being delayed for such a long period of time, that it starve us off of much interesting articles and happenings in the koi world of Japan and around the world.

                          Koi-Bito is today being circulated world-wide which is an achievement. My compliments. Yes, we understand it is not so easy to produce a magazine of high standard which is appreciated by all serious koi hobbyists. But becos of today advent of modern science and computerisation, you are able to reach out to all around the world. Indeed having a Koi-Bito in hand is much more better than reading it through e-subscription (eg Rinko - which was such an excellent magazine until it went on e-subscripttion).

                          2) Operating from Japan which is one of the most expensive city/country in the world is indeed a burden to a small time publisher like you eventhough you may have an excellent magazine, but then again that is the city/country you loved most other than the place where you are born.

                          Touching on the question of expensiveness and cost and talented people with good enough understanding of English - well, like I said, today with the advent of computerisation - things move very fast! Like this post which could be read worldwide within seconds. Similarly Brain, you could actually moved you articles and production out of Japan, to places like Malaysia, Singapore or Hong Kong - where the cost of labour, production, printing and bulk mailing are so much more cheaper as compared with Japan.

                          Studio productions interm of layout, photo-retouching, etc could be done in Malaysia. Positive films production (ie if you are using it for printing) could be done in Malaysia where the colour output films/progressive proofs cost are so much cheaper. On completion, the bulk of the films/progressive proofs could be couriered to Hong Kong or Singapore for printing and bulk mail out from there.

                          In that manner, I think you would be able to reduce your 40% postage cost and 50% printing and production cost.

                          Today, email with attachment as high as 2MB for jpeg file are more than good enough for any high quality photo reproduction. Work done in studio could be emailed across the globe within seconds for proof-reading and back/forth. Moreover, nowadays, we have efficient courier service company which would be able to ship the readied films/proof to the next country for offstone.

                          So, Brain, think about it... save you much and moreover we could have our magazines on time. Cheers.
                          Hi Roger and thanks for the insight,

                          I've looked into S. Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore, etc. with regards to printing and couldn't see any clear advantages when everything was down on paper. S. Korea supposedly has a wage cost 1/3rd of that in Japan. After getting quotes from 3 printing companies, the closest that they could get was within less than 10% of my current costs (two were actually higher than Japan) and rather than negotiate, they seemed content to use our time conversing to tell me everything that was wrong with the Japanese printing industry and why I should choose S. Korea instead. Their way of printing is per page only, and they claim to be unable to do color correction per picture.

                          Many people may not realize how important it is to use a printer that can do color correction per photo rather than per page. Many printers just want to receive an order entirely in .pdf format (meaning that color correction is nearly impossible) and do not want to get involved in doing any corrections at all. They still charge a comparable amount though for what I consider an inferior product. If my printer ruins a color, I can literally summon them here and bless them out and demand that they make amends. The quality of print is very high, and you can see this when you compare a copy of KB to other koi magazines. There are no "jaggies" in the photos either, and my printer has the experience of printing a Japanese koi magazine as well.

                          Most of you probably don't know that we had a partner printing a Chinese version of KB for the first 3 issues. The printing was done in Hong Kong/China and the quality was very bad indeed. The printers were highly uncooperative and couldn't even get the colors close to what we turned in as manuscript. According to them, all the problems were on our side. To top it off, they weren't that cheap either especially considering that most of the work was done in ultra low-wage China. When we showed the magazine to breeders/exporters wanting to sell to the Chinese market, talks rarely proceeded beyond the topic of how poor the color was. Offshoring work may mean greater profits for someone else, but I don't think that as far as printing goes, that it will do much for me neither in terms of cost savings or quality.

                          As interesting side not, quite a while back I received an e-mail from a fellow in Malaysia or Indonesia offering his companies' layout services. I politely thanked him and told him that I didn't require them at the time, but I'd keep his offer in consideration if the need arose. He then promptly went on to one of the largest boards in that part of the world and completely unprovoked (meaning there was no discussion related to what he posted concerning KB) to blast my magazine by telling everyone how poor the layout was. No constructive comments...done merely as sour grapes and to hurt the image of KB. If we were in the same country, I wouldn't have wasted any time having my lawyer contact him to settle the matter. That's one of the great things about the internet though.

                          Layout/Postage...I'm more than willing now to reconsider. For the amount of money I spend with the Japanese postal system, and with the less than flattering treatment they give me, I would drop them in a heartbeat if I saw another clear and beneficial alternative.

                          Thanks for suggestions, but I don't think that printing abroad is a good solution at present. There's much more to printing than meets the eye.
                          Brian Sousa
                          Koi-Bito Forum

                          Comment

                          • #14

                            Stick with what ya got Brian

                            If you change there will always be someone who then says why are we paying this type of money for cheap print.

                            I have not heard one comment about this costs too much,The articles are no good or not what i want to read,The pictures are too small or poor quality.

                            I think we all like KB just the way it is....just a bit quicker please shall i run down to the door early in the morning
                            Regards

                            Gazza

                            Comment

                            • #15

                              Hi Brian,

                              I'd like to re-subscribe, I had a go at card subscription when I informed you that mine and several others had not been informed our subscription had elapsed, but I could not get the thing to work.

                              I've not tried since, but really miss the mag!

                              I'm sure there are others in my situation?

                              I'd also like to buy all the missing editions since the first years subscription ran out.

                              Tell me the best way of going about this?

                              I'm missing the best mag and you're missing some revenue.
                              It just gets put back, as I'm really too busy for reading!

                              Best wishes and hope things are settling down for you,
                              Maurice.
                              http://www.koi-uk.co.uk

                              Comment

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