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3/12/21 – A Short Update

Dear Friends,

At this point, you are almost certainly more used to interacting with/hearing from our Managing Editor & Social Media Manager Michael Moore than me, but I wanted to give everyone a long form update regarding the Cheap Imitation project as a whole. We originally planned to launch the first issue in January of  2021, which — obviously — has come and gone because, as it turns out, creating something as self-consciously ambitious as this magazine wishes to be takes far more time than we (naively) had originally imagined. Tentatively, the first issue of  the Cheap Imitation magazine will be releasing sometime in late March/early April, if  all goes according to plan which — in the still-COVID ravaged world — it may well not. The delay was caused by a multitude of  causes including but not limited to: staff  turnover, mental health crises, people moving, personal/family obligations, etc.

You can, however, rest assured that we here at Cheap Imitation (which, coincidentally, is now technically Cheap Imitation® LLC — a change which also contributed to the smörgåsbord of  small delays that now has us running not-a-small-bit late) are still hard at work creating a magazine that — with any luck — will end up surpassing all our initial lofty expectations.

This letter is meant to serve a few distinct purposes, but it is first-and-foremost an attempt to bring about a rare bit of  transparency in the arts/publishing space which — too often — tends toward obscurity and insularity. That’s why I wanted to talk a bit about — and this is everyone’s least favorite part — the business side of  things. That is, how will this journal be distributed and what — exactly — will one have to ‘dish-out’ to get one’s well-worn hands on a copy. When I first dreamed up this whole thing, I wanted — desperately — to make sure that the magazine itself  could be both economically accessible (for both political — i.e. equity — and practical — i.e. to attract a larger readership — reasons) and high-quality/beautiful. I think there is a (wrongheaded) perception, at least where I come from, that these two things are — on some level — mutually exclusive. I, obviously, disagree with that perception. In service of  toeing the balance between these two wishes, Michael, Kaiya, and I spent some time brainstorming ways in which we could somehow keep the quality of  the magazine itself  (as an object) as high as our self-consciously pretentious ambitions require without pricing out those of  underprivileged/disadvantaged economic backgrounds.

What we’ve settled on is this: as with most magazines, there will be both a physical and a digital run of  every issue. The two runs — however — will be priced at different levels. The digital run — which, naturally, is far cheaper to produce — will be priced in such a way that prioritizes (above all else) economic accessibility, likely coming in somewhere around $4.00-$6.00 USD. The print run — however — is going to be as high quality (i.e. expensive to manufacture) as the content within demands, which is in line with the original stated goal of  the magazine. Consequently, it will likely come in around $20-$30 USD, depending on a few design specifics and on how large a print run we end up having done. Part of  the reason that both of  these are as high as they are is that we reject the concept of  advertising.

Advertising is, and (sadly) will probably continue to be such a large part of  the publishing world that it has become all but invisible to the average reader. That is, when you open any publication, you expect to have your eyes bombarded by disparate advertisements for this-and-that product that you probably didn’t want to see, and that — no matter how little — necessarily subtracts from the quality of  the publication, at least by adding content that does not, in of  itself, contribute to the overall work.

This is a large portion of  the reason why magazines are able to have the (relatively low) subscription prices that they end up with: because, in the end, you are paying both for the magazine, and to be sold to others, more-or-less without your input.

We don’t want you to pay us to sell you.

Consequently, we’ve set up a short form to ask a few questions about how you feel about new economic model for literary/arts publication, and to get a general understanding of  how many people would be interested in the (beautiful, perfect bound, and — most importantly — real) print edition of  the magazine, as opposed to the (more accessible) digital edition of  the magazine. We would really appreciate it if  you took a moment to fill out the form (it will really only take a minute, it’s 3 extra short questions).

Thank you for being patient with us!

We’ll be sure to make it worth the wait!


David W. Carstens

Editor-In-Chief  | Founder