Dear Linux Magazine Reader,
"... emerging magazines compete fiercely in the jungle of reader expectations. Many startup magazines collapse within the first year due to the pressures of circulation quotas, budgets, and deadlines."
My eyes fall upon these words as I read through the welcome column from the 50th issue of this magazine. When I wrote that column, I wanted to point out that, even though four years is a relatively short time in the life of an adult human, it is actually quite a significant milestone for a new magazine. Many magazines don't even get past the first year.
When you start a magazine, you are gambling that:
Even one of these four conditions is often enough to put chalk in your hair. The effect of all four together, operating in and out of phase with each other, has brought down many a promising pub. The magazines that survive for years, riding out recessions, staffing changes, and shifting market attitudes, are usually really good at their game.
The 50th was actually only my third issue with this magazine, and I recall it as quite an interesting rhetorical challenge to invoke a profound sense of mythic historical significance when I had only been with the pub for three months. But that was many folios ago. Now that we've reached our 100th issue, I really do feel a momentous sense of awe at the passing of time.
If you count backwards from 100, you will find that the first issue of this magazine appeared more than eight years ago, which means we have already survived the Dot Com bust and the long steady contraction of the IT industry, not to mention the current financial panic. The fact that I have been around for over half those issues myself - and have actually written 53 of these little columns - seems practically impossible.
In one sense, I know that we are doing well because Linux is doing so well. As new users discover Linux, they look to the newsstand for guidance. Even though we tend to focus on advanced topics, we often receive mail from beginners who choose our magazine because they just happen to like our approach. In another sense, our techie aesthetic might have a certain timelessness that protects us from some of the ravages of the business cycle. But the main reasons for our success are that we have excellent authors, a great professional staff, and a smart, energetic community of readers who let us know what they want and seek us out on all those thousands of magazine racks around the world.
Thanks to all of you for giving us this chance to play a role in telling the story of Linux.