soapbox

Annie Modesitt wrote a pretty awesome post this morning about Soho Publishing (aka the people who put out Vogue, Knit1, Knit Simple) and their new plans to release patterns from past magazines for sale via online downloads.

While I don’t have a personal axe to grind with Soho (not having been published in any of their mags), I think this kind of treatment is pretty shabby.  For a $5-$7 knitting pattern, the fees to Paypal are ~10% (varies slightly, paypal charges a set minumum fee plus a small additional percentage of the sale).  So basically Soho is saying the designer is on par with Paypal (although to be fair, I am guessing that whatever checkout/payment feature Soho plans to use, they’ll be getting a much better deal on the fees than I do….so I suppose that would make the designer a *little* more important than the checkout/payment software).  Now, that wasn’t intended to disparage the checkout/payment program–for online sales they are pretty integral.  But you have to have something to sell first.  And if you’ve made the decision that a certain item (pattern) is worth selling, well, it seems that the person who made that item available to be sold in the first place (by designing it) is a REALLY integral part of getting the item to market, and so they ought to be valued at a slightly higher rate than 10%.  On top of which, the other major print knitting magazine offering online downloads (Interweave) DOES offer substantially more than 10% to the designers.  I don’t know if Soho just failed to research the practices of the competition or figured it didn’t matter, but either way it seems like they don’t care much about retaining quality designers or promoting a feeling of goodwill with their designers, especially it 10% is also going to be the policy for all future contracts–any web savvy designer can figure out via the interwebs that another publication offers a better rate and can opt to take their designing prowess there.  I know Soho has to make money, but if Interweave can offer a higher rate and still maintain profitability…

Anywho, at the moment I have approximately zero clout with Soho as a designer, BUT, I have been known to occasionally purchase their magazines.  However, I’ll be abstaining from any Soho publications for the forseeable future–until they reconsider their non-negotiable 10% policy.  And if they do come knocking on my designer door, I’ll be holding out for a fair cut along with Annie.   I’ll also be contacting Vogue Knitting via their website to let them know how I feel about their new compensation policty and I’d encourage anyone reading this post to do the same (I would email SoHo directly, but their website doesn’t list an email address.  However, Vogue is their flagship publication so it seems like a good second-best).

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