Office copy

As has become the tradition here at Digest Towers (well we did it last year), once again the January edition has been cut to the bone to allow everyone involved in the production process to better enjoy/endure the Xmas/New Year holiday period.

Obviously as this issue only runs to these few pages, it will be joining the equally truncated one we put out in January last year on the free shelf; so if you have only ever read the magazine online until now, why don’t you visit our shop and check it out in all its PDF glory? (And while you are there, you really should take the opportunity to download the wonderfully diverse and beautifully laid out 188-page issue 171, which we’ve been offering as a no strings attached FREE sampler.)

That’s the good news; unfortunately on the downside, and I know that this will be a major disappointment to some of our oldest and most loyal readers, this will, for the time being at least, be the last PDF we will be producing.

Conventional wisdom says that while it’s absolutely fine and groovy – and can even be a little edgy – to talk straight about the ups and downs, pleasure and pain motorcycles can deliver (even to the extent of including the kind of gruesome content that PC Graham confronted us with in issue 183), I should never ever be upfront about the kind of Micky Mouse operation that lies behind the slick image that our pages present.

And although I’ve gone on record as stating that as far as I’m concerned ‘conventional wisdom’ is an oxymoron, I’m also acutely aware that I seem to have had a complete business acumen bypass. Consequently, for the last couple of years I’ve bowed to the superior wisdom of friends and associates whose commercial instincts are supposedly vastly superior to mine and kept shtoom.

However, my reluctant reticence doesn’t appear to have generated much by way of income so I’ve decided that although I’m obviously a ‘bear of little business brain’, I’m going to revert to my natural inclination and lay it on the line.

The awful unvarnished truth, for the sake of anyone who hadn’t figured it out, is that Digest Towers is an upstairs back room in a terraced house in an unfashionable part of west London and the whole operation has been subsidised thus far by a combination of the insurance settlement I received after a particularly nasty shoulder-shattering RTA in 2009 and the good grace, generosity and indulgence of my lovely wife Wendy.

Producing the PDF has always been the most costly part of the operation because it requires the skills and know-how of an experienced designer and even at mate’s rates that kind of thing doesn’t come cheap.

When I first committed to publish The Rider’s Digest online, my only relevant experience was the 41 issues of the printed magazine I’d produced and they were all laid out as PDFs so that was the obvious starting point – particularly as I knew nothing about presenting content on the web.

The gap between the cost of producing an attractive magazine in PDF form and the income the whole operation generated, was showing little sign of getting any smaller by August 2013 when I had no choice other than to tell Simon Gardner, our designer, that I couldn’t afford to carry on paying him after September.

Although he’s not a rider himself, he’s thoroughly enjoyed being involved with the magazine and derived enormous satisfaction from creating some great features so he generously offered to lay out these last four issues for love – gawd bless you Si – in the hope that we might knock out enough copies of the PDF to cover his time. Unfortunately the comparatively small number we’ve sold don’t even begin to come close.

It would be great to be able to find a way of paying for future editions in PDF form (or my dream of dreams, printed on glossy paper) but frankly at the moment it’s as much I can do to finance the basic web site so I will be concentrating on getting the extensive archive on line and spreading the word more efficiently to the massive potential readership that doesn’t even know we exist.

I might not be particularly business savvy but I understand that when it comes down to it, earning money on the Internet is all about numbers and if we can generate enough traffic all things become possible. So what can you do? Well, if everyone who’s enjoyed one of our features was to recommend it to a dozen or so of their friends, we’d have the kind of audience our material merits.

In the meantime, if there are any would be guardian angels or mega business brains out there who think they might be able to help (without telling me how to change the content or the ethos of the magazine to fit conventional commercial wisdom) you know how and where to contact me.

I wish you all the kind of motorcycling New Year you hope for.

Be careful out there.

Dave Gurman