The Ball Bearing and the Beach Ball

I fell in love with the printed word years ago. Over the last 10 years I've made it my business to be in the publishing business. I am acutely aware of what is happening on the web, on people's cell phones/Blackberries and iPhones. I truly feel comfortable in BOTH worlds and enjoy the best of what each has to offer.

Like many independent publishers, I am continually thinking about how better to run my magazine. And like many of you, I am pretty sick to death of hearing about the death of print. It's a complex situation that only gets more complicated when folks equate magazines with newspapers. And don't get me started on banner ads!

Over the course of the next several months, my plan is to present (in as much detail as I can) my manifesto on how I believe independent publishers cannot only survive, but thrive.

The way I view things is pretty simple: you are either a ball bearing or a beachball. This means you are either really small or really big. I can't address medium-sized publishers who have enormous overheads relative to the small publishers and don't have the billions of dollars the large guys have.

While it's fascinating to see the large publishers in action and read about their fabulous parties (oh wait, that's so 2008!) the truth is that it's the smaller, independent publishers that really need the help.

So to kick start this discussion - here's just the first part of my manifesto:

Concrete Wave wishes to remain a ball bearing —small, hard to find and continually in the state of being polished. Our goal is to provide readers with a deep impression when they get hit with it. Conversely, we do not aim to be a beach ball — big, seen all over the place, colorful and yet leaving very little impression when it hits. A beach ball is very fragile indeed and must avoid challenging environments, because it requires so much air to keep it afloat. A weighty ball bearing can withstand both challenging environments along with the pin pricks of adversity.

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Michael Brooke is the publisher of Concrete Wave Magazine.