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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm just starting out in N-Gauge and have begun serious planning for a layout. I've been buying some or all of the big three magazines, Railway Modeller, Model Rail and British Railway Modelling, each issue for the past 12 months or so but I've been very disappointed by their coverage of N-Gaude topics, which seems quite hit and miss.

Can anyone recommend the best one for N-Gauge long term, or are they all much the same? Are there any other mags I should be looking at?

I've joined the N-Gauge Soc and their journal is very good but it doesn't cover everything. Has no one ever thought of producing an N-Gauge only mag for the UK like N-Scale in the US? Wouldn't this be a good idea for N-Gaugers in this country? Any thoughts out there?!
 

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Hi Scafellpike and welcome to the MRF.

As regards N Gauge coverage in magazines I have found 'Model Rail' probably provides the most coverage. I am also a member of the N Gauge Society so get their bi-monthly magazine.

While it would be tremendous to have a monthly magazine dedicated to us N Gaugers the vast majority of modellers are either into 00 or HO and I doubt if there are enough of us to make it a viable commercial proposition.

As an illustration, I have only identified about 20 or so of us on this forum out of the 2,500 or so members which is less than 1% and includes modellers of European and American stock. The average circulation for Model Rail magazine was 30,228 in 2007 which, if this forum is representative, would mean they would probably not sell more than 3 or 4 hundred mags per month. I realise that this is very raw data with very little basis for making any sort of accurate circulation projections but it does not appear to provide the basis for a feasible business plan.

Having said that, however, there are indications that more and more modellers are turning to N Gauge due to space limitations and we can only hope that our numbers eventually swell to such an extent as would make a dedicated N Gauge magazine a real possibility.

Regards,

Expat.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Many thanks to Expat for your prompt response to my posting and what you say makes interesting reading. Based on your (admittedly unscientific) analysis, it seems that the N-Gauge market is perhaps much smaller than I had considered to be the case.

Your comments prompted me to search out something I'd read in an article in Model Rail earlier this year - which referred to the boss of Dapol apparently claiming that there were around 10,000 active N-Gauge modellers in the UK.

I believe there are around 5,500 members currently in the N Gauge Society which would suggest that around 50% of active N-Gaugers are members. But that would still leave 5,000 or so who aren't!

I have an acquaintance who's involved in the publishing industry and he says, quite rightly, that a specialist N-Gauge magazine with 300-400 sales per issue would not be a viable proposition - but if you could attract sales of 10 times that (3,000-4,000) it could be made to work.

If, as you say, N-Gauge is gaining in popularity all the time, there might be scope for something in the near future. The more I think about this, the more I'd like to see an N-Gauge-specific mag, that's for sure!
 

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Hi Scafellpike,

Some interesting numbers you have come up with there though I've re-read the Dapol Model Rail Interview (Issue 107) and can't find your reference to 10,000 N Gauge modellers in the UK. What I did find, however, was an interview in issue 108 with the bosses of Bachman/Graham Farish. In this they refer to their minimum viable order quantity for 00 locos as being 5,000 and note that "while the (N Gauge) market has growth it is still less than 20% of our 00 market" though "it was only 10% a few years ago". Applying this ratio to the Model Rail circulation figures would give a potential circulation for a dedicated N Gauge magazine of around 6,000 which, if I understand your aquantances comments correctly, could be enough to justify publication.

Before we get too excited, however, one should perhaps look at what the consequences of this might be.

To start with there's a potential 20% drop in the circulation figures for the existing magazines. Would publishers really bring out a new magazine which would be likely to hit it's existing magazine circulation to such an extent. I think not.

Secondly, the content of the existing magazine would, itself, have to become more specialised. There would be less new models to review and less layouts to feature. And that's just for starters. Then there is the matter of advertising revenue. Are there really enough specialist N Gauge producers to be able to pay for enough advertising space to subsidise the magazine selling price to the same extent as they do at present. Again, I think not.

Finally lets just have a look at how well N Gauge is presently served. Having looked at the last 6 issues of Model Rail I find that there are, on average, a total of 12 new products reviewed, of which around 30% are either N Gauge or applicable to all gauges. Then there are the articles which are standard to all gauges. Baseboards, DCC and other forms of control, Track ballasting and detailing, Scenics, Loco and rolling stock detailing and weathering. The list just goes on. I use Model Rail as my reference because that is the one I have settled on as providing the highest proportion of N Gauge information and articles. By contrast the much vaunted new Hornby magazine barely mentions N Gauge and seems to be aimed squarely at 00.

In conclusion, while the prospect of a dedicated N Gauge magazine is, on first reaction, an exciting prospect I believe we will be better served by the existing magazines which, given the quoted growth of N Gauge, will have no alternative but to recognise that swing and, over the course of time, gradually reflect that swing in the balance of their articles. Basically N Gauge would be like a 5th column working from within rather than trying to fight city hall head on.

This is an interesting exchange we are having but it would be good to hear the views of other N Gaugers. The present deafening silence from other, like minded modellers is, perhaps, a sufficient answer to your original question.

Regards,

Expat.
 

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I would of course welcome a magazine dedicated to those who model in "N" however as has been pointed out your numbers reflect those of us who model Continental or American (and possibly even the occasional Japanese). My interest is dominated by Switzerland which of course has smatterings of other continental traffic passing through such as DB ICE, TGVs and other freight companies like Railion etc etc. There is plenty of variety to model should I so wish.

Without wanting to get into one of those semantic debates that forums seem to love I am of course an N Scale modeller ie 1:160 vice N Gauge at 1:148 - a peculiar UK quirk like OO. In the same way that RM and the Hornby mags are dominated by OO I suspect that any UK dedicated N magazine would focus heavily on those who model the UK scene at 1:148. That would be of no more real interest to me than RM. I have been a Continental Modeller subscriber but have decided that it isn't worth the money overall; I simply accept that in UK I am in a minority scale and a minority interest within that subset. I am not currently a member of the N Gauge Society either as that appears to be dominated by UK prototype, I just stick with the Swiss Railways Society which is of course not modeller specific.

Looking to Germany which I suspect is the largest N scale community outside of the US (I just assume that like everything in the US the size of the market probably dwarfs any European country) N is much smaller than the HO market but they do manage to publish a dedicated magazine - N Bahn which is published 6 times a year (N Bahn magazine). If my German were better this would definitely interest me (I do pick up a copy whenever I am in Switzerland or Germany and I can get a fair bit out of it) and I wonder if any similar UK publication might do better as bi-monthly rather than assuming it must be monthly? Also my view of magazines in Germany/Switzerland is that they get by on much less advertising than ours; my examples would be N Bahn, Eisenbahn Amateur and Loki so I wonder what is different about continental Europe magazine economics to UK's? Goedel may have some thoughts or knowledge on that.

As an aside I like Model Rail and had hoped they might go for an International version as a stand alone but it seems to be a quarterly supplement although MR seems to have disappeared from WH Smiths so I am not even catching those occasional supplements either!

I suspect that Expat is on the money in that N Gauge/Scale will feature more assuming the market continues to expand meanwhile if you ain't modelling OO don't hold your breath!

Regards

Geoff
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Many thanks again to Expat (and Geoff) for your prompt responses to my latest comments. I didn't realise I my original query would stimulate such a debate so quickly!

Firstly, I must apologise to Expat for apparently misleading him over my quote from Dapol about there being around 10,000 active N-Gauge modellers in the UK. This didn't appear in the Dapol intervew in Model Rail last autumn but in an article earlier this year (Jan issue?) about a project for an N-Gauge layout based on the "Long Line" in Devon.

Secondly, I must take issue with your comments about the Bachmann/Graham Farish interview in which they talked about 5,000 being a minimum for a production run in 00 and for N-Gauge it would be 20% or less of that. The figure of 5,000 is misleading in this context as the important word is "minimum".

I would not quibble with Bachmann's "20%" figure for the N-Gauge market but unless you know just how big the 00 market is, you cannot put a figure on that 20%.

I know we are straying into the world of semantics here but this is relevant to my query about whether an N-Gauge mag is a viable proposition.

Turning to your remarks about advertising, there are plenty of traders/advertisers in the main magazines who specialise in N-Gauge such as N-Gauge Lines, Union Mills etc. If the N-Gauge market is 20% of 00 it must be even less of the railway modelling market as a whole which means much of their advertising in those mags is essentially wasted. If there was an N-Gauge specific magazine to advertise in, their ads would hit (up to) 100% of their intended market, rather than 20% or less as now.

Also, I don't see how perhaps losing around 20% of their ads would be a crisis for the big three magazines, even supposing N-Gauge traders abandoned them entirely, which is unlikely. I would welcome the views of N-Gauge traders on this point if any are reading this!

Geoff points out that N-Gauge modellers in the UK favour European, American and Japanese as well which is an important point but I don't see why a UK-based N-Gauge mag couldn't or wouldn't feature all these too.

I was interested to see his reference to the German N-Bahn mag as I hadn't heard of this. I wouild suggest perhaps a UK mag could tape into these extra sources of info by having a tie-up with N-Bahn and the Japanese N-Gauge mag for exchange of suitable translated articles.

I would welcome any further comments from anyone else out there!
 

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QUOTE (Geoff Booth @ 2 Apr 2008, 23:42) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Looking to Germany which I suspect is the largest N scale community outside of the US (I just assume that like everything in the US the size of the market probably dwarfs any European country) N is much smaller than the HO market but they do manage to publish a dedicated magazine - N Bahn which is published 6 times a year (N Bahn magazine). If my German were better this would definitely interest me (I do pick up a copy whenever I am in Switzerland or Germany and I can get a fair bit out of it) and I wonder if any similar UK publication might do better as bi-monthly rather than assuming it must be monthly? Also my view of magazines in Germany/Switzerland is that they get by on much less advertising than ours; my examples would be N Bahn, Eisenbahn Amateur and Loki so I wonder what is different about continental Europe magazine economics to UK's? Goedel may have some thoughts or knowledge on that.
Hello Geoff,

How is the modelling going? (I see Minitrix has re-released the SBB Eurocity coaches again!)

I would say that the N-Bahn-Magazin is very good for European N scale, and also very difficult to get hold of outside the Eurozone, as Alba only accept bank transfers...[insert rant about bank charges on international transfers here] and if there were someone in the UK who would organise a bulk subscription it would be excellent.

Regarding what is different about continental Europe magazine economics, I think there are many contributing factors. Firstly the Arnold company invented N scale in Germany, and ever since the beginning, N scale technology and standards in Europe have been and still are in many respects far ahead of the UK. (I will ignore/not mention the influence of American N scale in UK since I don't know anything about it!) This has always made N scale more viable to Europeans than it is here in the UK with N gauge.

Secondly mainland Europe as a whole with thousands of trains crossing borders every day has a huge interlinked market for model trains in all the scales and gauges, helped by standardisation with the UIC etc. which means economy of scale for real railways but also for model companies! Just look at the Eurofima coach as an example...

Thirdly, there is the cultural difference - despite the great pioneering engineering/industrial revolution heritage of the UK with Brunel et al. it is true today that in the UK being an engineer (and the works of an engineer) are not a respected career in the same way that it is in the German speaking countries of Germany, Austria and Switzerland, e.g. compare the average persons opinions of Marconi (who?) to Siemens (mobile phones to washing machines to maglev trains). In my opinion, and nothing more, this difference of cultures strenghtens the appeal of a model railway to say a German in a way it does not for an Englishman.

The first factor is specific to N scale, the second and third affect all scales, and I would suggest these factors combine to make a magazine such as N-Bahn viable and successful for Alba, but I'm only a modeller and that is the caveat that it attached to all my comments, i.e. not a editor! The only solution for the UK is for manufacturers to embrace the latest technology without sending prices through the roof, (e.g. close coulping costs nothing to produce but has only just arrived in the UK!!) and the hope that "declining" room sizes, or a desire for sweeping scenery or full length stations and trains encourages people to switch to N gauge, making a magazine viable.
 

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I totally agree with Gödel, and would like to emphasize the "crossing borders" aspect. Take, for example, the Traxx1 and 2 engines - they´re everywhere. Germany has freight and passenger versions, Switzerland has them, Luxemburg, Belgium and Poland will get them, and Sweden (Hectorrail) and Hungary also operate them - most of the aforementioned countries in several liveries. Same with the Hercules, and the Taurus.

When Fleischmann makes a Traxx1, or Hobbytrain makes a Taurus, they can offer them in a variety of liveries, to a variety of customers in a variety of countries. (Or in HO, Roco, Piko and ACME). The production run is way higher than if, say, a class 145, which basically is only used in Germany, is made.
 

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Hi Gödel, Scafellpike and ME 26-06

First off I am making significant progress on my layout but through Neil Stevenson at Professional Layout Services; as I am away from home during the week the only realistic way to make progress for me is to get the new layout built and I know it will be to a much higher standard than I could achieve (N Scale Swiss) and will be fully set up for DCC. The link shows latest progress. I have a good set of the EC coaches and still waiting on the Hobbytrain/Kato IC2000 double-deckers (aren't we all!!) - some nice stuff in the pipeline as well this year (Ae6/6 from Fleischmann for one...)

Scafellpike don't be surprised at triggering debate! Expat energized me quite rightly with his suggestion of limited engagement from the N crowd. You raise a very valid point despite my slightly skeptical view;
perhaps I should try and persuade you on the joys of pretty accurate continental models (seriously anyone must model whatever they want in whatever scale they want whilst understanding what the market will bear/produce).

But back on topic the magazine issue is frustrating; however I return to my view that whilst I think your choice of N Gauge (or scale) is right on the money (and I would say that wouldn't I!) we remain bit parts in the big scheme of the UK modelling scene. However if someone were prepared to publish a bi-monthly mag focusing on N in general (ie UK, Continental, US etc) they would get a subscription from me in a heartbeat! Any takers?
I think there is a market there but whether it is a business plan worth pursuing I honestly don't know.
 

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Make me number 6...

I do often find inspiration in scales, locations and eras other than my own so would prefer a well-done across-the-piece magazine rather than a very thin gauge-specific one. Partly for this reason I haven't yet joined the NGS but I suspect their journal probably caters sufficiently for those who want a UK(mostly)-N-gauge-specific publication. Oddly enough there was some debate on another forum about how last autum's big NGS exhibition was allegedly over-dominated by layouts set in other countries.

I can sort of understand that there won't be many N gauge specific features but I get a little miffed when a feature on a particular prototype mentions the OO model options but ignores those in N. For example the current Model Rail mentions OO conversion kits for the Manchester Pullman coaches but fails to mention the Electra decals that do the same job in N. So a casual reader with an interest in this prototype but yet to choose a gauge to model in would probably go for OO. My other small gripe with MR at present is that it seems to devote more space to O than to N - both are minority scales but I can't really imagine that O is that much more popular than N is.
 

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I'm number 7 and I know of two others who post on this forum, so that makes 9.
A new magazine for N Scale which covers similar topics that the other mags already do for other scales simply wouldn't interest me. There are far too many new product reviews and not enough 'How to' articles in my opinion. As far as I know there are no magazines that cater for the 'second hand' buyer. I note that there are over 3,400 N Gauge items offered for sale on Ebay today, so there must be some interest. Articles on how to fit decoders into split frame chassis, change couplers, refurbish that old loco etc. are what would make me buy a mag.
When my subscription to Model Rail runs out this year I won't be renewing it. I learn more from free websites in a day than I learn in a year from the mags.
 

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Hi
I am not sure if polis means me and harkins modelling in ngauge and posting here if not two more too add bringing the total too 11 ... as to N magazines dedicated to the gauge yes it would be good to have as has been mentioned N scale caters for this in the states and judging by the layouts i have seen there it is far better catered for although OO/HO still dominates ........ i personally dont mind U.S. magazines modelling in American railroads along with Briitsh 60's to modern subjects class 66's.
A good source of N gauge articles regularly is model railroader another U.S. magazine available widely over here well illustrated and clear text.
A magazine covering articles outlined by polis such as dcc fitment with good clear pictures would i'm sure help more people get into dcc ... yes ebay is a good barometer of the popularity of the scale it is common to see 1000+ items for sale at any onetime therefore proving the demand now the question is which publisher is to be the first with an N gauge only magazine ?

upnick.
 

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I think the worlds biggest market for n scale trains is Japan. I cant find the reference no longer but remember a statistic stating that the Japanese market is bigger than the US one. And there are magazines, too but the language

I am more interested in N than in 00 but some years ago when I started collecting British trains the quality was not to my liking so i went to 00. Now I am into Japanese steam in N scale. Seeing the recent improvements in British N models I am tempted to add some models or even dedicating part of my layout to British models.

Thomas
 

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QUOTE (goedel @ 3 Apr 2008, 19:52) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>I would say that the N-Bahn-Magazin is very good for European N scale, and also very difficult to get hold of outside the Eurozone, as Alba only accept bank transfers...[insert rant about bank charges on international transfers here] and if there were someone in the UK who would organise a bulk subscription it would be excellent.

Apologies for resurrecting such an old thread!

I'm trying to take out a subscription to N-Bahn Magazin, and was slightly surprised to be informed they'd be sending an invoice as direct payment from the UK is not an option. It seems like they were incapable of doing this all the way back in 2008 as well.

Does anyone else here in the UK subscribe, and would they have any tips on how to best handle the payment?
 

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Hi,

I mentioned in another thread about making payments from a personal account via Transferwise. This avoids the excessive charges from your bank for overseas payments and allows you to make payments by invoice. I don't subscribe to N-Bahn Magazine but have been meaning to for sometime. I suspect they will send an invoice via email and on receipt you make the payment by transfer with a reference number which they provide.

I've done this a lot, buying stuff from the model railway cottage industry in Europe, without any problems. Recently I ordered some things and the seller insisted I make the payment on receiving the goods not before ...

Cheers
 
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