Re: Random Thoughts from my two articles in Volume 3 of Speedwitch's Modeling Journal


It is a complex problem.

You reminded me that one thing they said was that books and magazines sales were still doing well, but not enough to carry the store. Its a large building and perhaps a third of it are books and magazines. Which is an interesting point, since they are just about four blocks away from a large Barnes and Nobles bookstore.

There were several volumes of local RR'ing books released and carried by them that I bought copies of, as one example.

In general, every hobby section of the store was large and well stocked. They were the #1 R/C store for that half of this county and the next as well.

And I wrote 'increasingly can't afford it' quite intensionally. A growing problem is that the newer modelers have an extremely difficult time finding well paying jobs and far too many are still living in basement bedrooms at the parents home as 30-year-olds. 

There are only so many hobby items one can put in their bedrooms when they can't get a place of their own.

The trends are not positive and have been steadily negative for far too many years.

Books may be an exception. I leap for them in effect. But I work with many people in a huge company that generally don't read anything other than the occasional contemporary magazine. They're not buying books as much as we could hope.

Look at the numbers over time and see if book sales match those of the past. I think if they had stayed very strong, so many bookstores would not have closed over the last several years.

And the new media is a competing problem. A couple of years ago I bought a cd that contains 15,000 books in it. Yes, 15,000 books.....

For under $5 .......... 

I don't even have a dedicated digital reader like a Kindle. But I do have all 15,000 books on my computer and use an App to read them. Where some years ago I bought nearly every reprint like the TOC Car Builders Dictionary with their thousands of RR car photos and equipment drawings in each. Now I've gathered even more of them in freely downloadable .pdf's that I can directly port into computer programs, transform, and build from....

The print versions will be going on eBay later this year.

Well, aren't I a downer ............

I'm still looking forward to doing all of the catch-up building of stuff that I just can't find to buy in the first place.

I just think the hobby has changed radically around us. Its still there, just very changed.

We can work with that..........

My more recent buy is the second volume of the Milwaukee Road Streamliner plans.......... Soon to be mated with a low-cost laser cutter to give me the models I can't find to buy.

Best to ya,
Mike Bauers
Milwaukee, Wi

On Mar 21, 2015, at 6:25 PM, Tony Thompson tony@... [STMFC] <STMFC@...> wrote:

Mike Bauers wrote:


According to the recent closing of a major hobby shop here, the owners stated that sales of everything have steadily dropped since the panic of 2008.

They closed due to projections that they would be unable to make the payroll in two more years of decline, and assessments of what additional costs were expected as various governmental programs kicked in over the next couple of years, increasing their overhead as well as further reducing the general public's ability to buy leisure items from anyone. The economy hasn't recovered and is being driven further down. Just paying the constantly increasing electric and heating bills became a challenge to a hobby shop as sales reduced.

    Mike, I'm sure these people are sincere and very likely believe what they told you. But actually, all niche products have been falling in sales in brick and mortar stores. Books are the same. But book sales, like hobby sales and other niche products, are INCREASING, and have been right through the recession. No prizes if you guess it's all about the Internet. Buy a book, buy an Athearn locomotive, it's the same product anywhere you buy it, and both convenience AND price are driving all this. It is silly to say "people can no longer afford it," because overall sales are NOT down.
     For freight cars, this is at least as true as for the other items named. Few hobby shops could afford to carry a complete stock of, say, InterMountain cars, not to mention resin kits. But sales of them are zipping right along. Just not in stores.

Tony Thompson             Editor, Signature Press, Berkeley, CA
2906 Forest Ave., Berkeley, CA 94705
(510) 540-6538; fax, (510) 540-1937; e-mail, tony@...
Publishers of books on railroad history

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