Monday, July 1, 2013

The mystery of the magazine.

Here in blogland, where some seem to think we're all about the confrontational opinion, sometimes I like to just pose a question. Not to attack, not to rain on anyone's parade . . . just because I wonder about things. And, as with the evil scientist from The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra, I picture someone, somewhere out there in readerland going, "I also wonder."

We're the cult of Sherlock Holmes. Ours is to wonder, even if no one else does.

So lately I've seen a few promotional bits for the new issue of Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine. It's a collection of what looks to be mystery stories, mostly about Sherlock Holmes, that sells for twelve dollars. It's edited by author Marvin Kaye, who also has produced a short story anthology, or two, or forty.

I used to subscribe to Sherlock Holmes: The Detective Magazine for a time, and it always seemed a little pricey at $5.50 an issue in the late nineties. But as it was produced across the Atlantic, I could give it the imaginary excuse that one had to pay its passage across the ocean. Having this new Sherlock Holmes magazine put together by a well known collector of short stories into book form, however, makes me wonder:

Why a magazine?

Twelve bucks will buy me a book, which is a little easier to carry around, and will contain a lot more pages and a lot more words. The main draw card of magazines is photo, art, and layout, and the internet usually shows us photos before anyone else these days. And art? Well, Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine has a very pulpish cover, but I'm not sure if I want to gamble that the innards are going to contain as much visual goodness as Sir Boast-A-Lot, which I wrote of a few days back.

Admittedly, I haven't seen said insides of this magazine, but that's the whole point of tonight's blog . . . do I gamble twelve bucks on some unknown pasticheurs in a format that is really meant for non-readers more than readers? And in a format that's so hard to store safely?

These days, I'm more about moving masses of paper out of the house than bringing them in, so a digital format I can read on the iPad is much more appealing. Comic books now only enter the house digitally.  And if The Baker Street Journal offered a digital alternative at a fair price, I would even transition that over. My days of collecting are done -- who wants to drag everything you ever read in the past around with you like massive albatross of print?  Books on bookshelves, I can still sympathize with somewhat -- they are like heads of trophy game you bagged. Magazines never attained that level of distinction.

So I wonder. But probably not enough to buy a copy.


  1. I have a few of these. They're actually bound and printed like paperbacks, and some issues have been available for Kindle. As with any anthology, the quality of stories can vary, depending on what you like, but they weren't bad at all.


  2. You know, you ask a good question, Brad. The new technologies have changed things for many people.

    But books and even magazines, when you get right down to it, are good technology. They are pretty-much permanent if cared for. Digital formats, frankly, are not. What if, not too-many years go, you had stored everything on a set of floppy discs? I have gotten rid of almost all my VHS tapes (the rest will go when I can replace them).

    But my books, magazines and comics? Not I. They are staying here. And I enjoy getting the new ones. They are a source of great pleasure for me. I can handle a book; I can go back to it again and again. And the pleasure of the hunt, the acquisition, the upgrade, the first edition, the rarity, the unusual. I just can't experience that with a digital download. I am a collector, and while I have become more discerning in what I collect, and better able now to invest much more in first editions or rarities, I enjoy that too much to let it go. I don't think the old-fashioned Sherlockian collections will disappear, because few of us who have been bitten by that bug would trade the pleasures of collecting for the conveniences of the digital cloud. The idea of digitizing my 650-plus Sherlockian comics makes me shudder.

    Now in this particular case, the "Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine," you have a good question. It's kind of a magazine; but in reality it's also a softcover book of pastiches. Also, it appears to be print-on-demand.

    I have a beef with print-on-demand pastiche. Most of it is just crap. (I no longer consider POD pastiche. churned out quicker than bunnies in summertime, worthy of my collection.) In this case, tough, Mr. Kaye appears to offer actual professional-grade editing. So the very-poorly written, error ridden trash you usually see in POD books is not found in it. I have been buying these, have enjoyed a few of the stories, and so far am willing to pay the price for them.

  3. I recently reduced my Sherlockian collections from an entire large room to a small bookcase in a large room.

    What remains are a few of the better editions of the Canon, a couple of reference works, and a few books by friends.

    It's all very liberating. I now understand why our cats bounce around the house excitedly after taking a huge dump in the litter boxes...

  4. Twelve bucks will buy me a book... at 'Half-price Books,' and, yeah, I want more content for my cash. I have cut down on pricey mags, and am more selective with my books... but reading your blog is as close as I want to get to any electronic Sherlockian offerings.