Saturday, November 7, 2015

Why I don't subscribe to the Baker Street Journal.

Early this morning, before heading into a rare Saturday shift, I was greeted by a note in the old e-mailbox from the supreme commander of the Baker Street Irregulars of New York. It was the annual announcement and write-up of the upcoming January doings, and it's nice to still be included in that, even though my past active participation was at least ten years ago.

But a question was asked, within those pages, and I figure I can participate enough to answer it, even though I know what comes out of my keyboard isn't going to satisfy anyone. It's not the answer anyone wants to hear, and the ad hominum arguments against any answer from this locale are probably pre-loaded with a few of those concerned. It's just Keefauver, after all.

The question from the head Irregular: "Can anyone enlighten me and others why there isn’t 100% participation of Irregulars in support of the BSJ by maintaining an annual subscription?"

As an Irregular who doesn't subscribe to The Baker Street Journal, my reason is pretty simple: I quit collecting everything associated with Sherlock Holmes. I had been receiving the Journal and not reading it for a couple years, and when the $40 subscription came due one year, I decided to spend the money on something else. This might be inconceivable to a lot of  Irregulars in good standing with the leadership, for as their chief states after his question: "I personally think that pride alone in our society would be enough to insure subscribing."

Personally, pride isn't really a motivator for me. Inclusiveness is. At some point, The Baker Street Journal became a separate entity from the Irregulars in my mind, as the quest for subscribers went on one course, while the quest for members went another.

"We could make it [subscriptions] mandatory as does the Sherlock Holmes Society of London," the B.S.I. commander-in-chief continued after his question, leaving out the fact that the Sherlock Holmes Society of London lets people sign up for membership to get their journal. The journal is just a perk of dues-paying members. If the Baker Street Irregulars wants to operate off the SHSoL model and let anyone be a member just by signing up and paying dues, I might proudly send them a check. Or not.

Because I'd still have to want to read it, and my tastes, as many a reader of this blog knows, are not always in the Sherlockian mainstream.

The world of print publishing is a hard place these days, yes. But The Baker Street Journal will find its niche and rise and fall in subscription numbers as it has always done. When it needed to be mimeographed and paper-brad bound, it still survived.  I have no doubt that it would go to a PDF format and go web-based, should the costs of paper and ink become too much to deal with. It's a great medium for getting content out . . . unless you really need something to collect, which, as I said, I'm pretty much done with. I'm not supporting the habits of those collectors who remain -- I've got too much stuff to get rid of as it is.

I really can't enlighten the supreme leader of the B.S.I. why others might not be supporting his favorite causes. I'd be curious to hear their reasons myself. As to why I'm not?

Just not interested at the moment. Maybe one day. But if that 100% subscriber number is important enough to trim the B.S.I. membership to attain it, well, they can have at it.

10 comments:

  1. Back in the day I used to get so many publications I had to keep a list to keep track of them all. I pared them down over the years - by price and content, and many newsletters just vaporized away - until today I am down to three(!) The B.S.J., The Scuttlebutt, and The Camden House Journal. I don't 'collect' them (though I DO keep them - somehow not the same thing) for the reading enjoyment. By price, the B.S.J. would be the next to go, and I COULD read the Scuttlebutt on-line (But I won't) which would leave me with one! Not ready to pare down that far...yet. (To become a B.S.I. by subscription, as I am not one, would probably induce me to opt out! Not big on being in a club.)

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  2. What if there were a digital version of the BSJ available, with more frequent updates that included a variety of media (video, audio, visuals)? Would that affect your desire to subscribe?

    Nothing I saw in the letter indicated that Wiggins (with whom you seem to have a beef) is planning to trim membership to have 100% participation in the BSJ.

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    1. It really would matter what the end combination of price and product were. The personality of the thing would be key. As for trimming BSI membership for 100% participation in the BSJ, how else do you read "We could make it mandatory..."? To me that says, "Subscribe or get kicked off the list," which is trimming. I do have a beef with veiled threats.

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    2. "We could," but we don't. That was what I read.

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  3. I doubt if Wiggins would "make it mandatory" since even a passing familiarity with the Sacred Writings is no longer required for membership.

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    1. That's a loaded comment. Prove it, "Anonymous."

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  4. Brad Keefauver recently commented: "while I enjoy a good club, I am real crap at holding one together. Too easily distracted, too busy with work, too occupied with this fad or that. I'm great at putting energy into an existing society when my levels are up and time is free, but keeping one chugging along on its rails, month after month, year after year . . . well, there's a role I never quite adapted to. I could name at least three separate examples of some fun collectives of the faithful that bit the dust under my watch."
    As you clearly recognize the challenges of sustaining an organization year in and year out, perhaps some cutting some slack for the people running the BSI might be in order. Or is this a case of those who can do....and those who can't blog?

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    1. As you notice, latest Anonymous, I am a bit hard on myself . . . much moreso than to the staff or management of the Grand Old Dinner. And if you really think about it, my comment on that single part of the latest manifesto was "cutting some slack" to all involved. So many parts of it that I did not comment upon. So many. As to who "does" and who merely "blogs," what are we to think of those who anonymously "comment?" Step up or back off.

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  5. I enjoy my BSJ issues, but I'm also still a relatively new Sherlockian, and not a member of the BSI. I *am* a proud member of the John H Watson Society, which includes a subscription to the journal - the *Watsonian* - in one's membership dues. I've had a sneak peek at the upcoming issue (the perks of being the webmistress!), and it's fabulous.

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  6. An interesting post. I too am having thoughts about which periodicals to continue paying for. I currently received three - The Sherlock Holmes Journal, The Baker Street Journal and The Passengers' Log. Up until quite recently the BSJ was the leading contender to be culled. The last two issues are making me think again as they were far superior to their recent predecessors.

    Jury's still out at the moment.

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