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The Digital Age and Embroidery Magazines

Since the advent of the internet and the advances that it has made, particularly with regard to publishing, it’s a subject that comes up regularly. I am often asked if (and when) my books, designs and patterns will be available in digital format. My answer is always no they won’t be. Not for now, anyway. There are few reasons for that.

The first is my favourite gripe. Theft. If you spend time in the company of young men who are computer savvy you very quickly learn from them how easy it is to get anything you want off the internet. It’s all out there from movies, television series, books, magazines……. The only thing that would stop you from committing wholesale theft is your own ethics. Because nothing else is going to put the brakes on your actions.

The other thing that might stop you would require deeper reflection.

For all of my life books and magazines have been a source of inspiration. From embroidery to home decoration, cooking to gardening (well maybe not cooking and gardening, I do as little of those two as I can possibly get away with), I have bought magazines and books to inspire and instruct me. It is not how I learnt to embroider, but it is how I have expanded my knowledge of stitches and techniques. If it wasn’t for books and magazines I wouldn’t know the name of, say, a Roman Blind, let alone how to make one. I would still be calling a Festoon Blind ‘one of those puffy blind things’. I would not know the difference between a duvet, bed spread or comforter and, and, and…….. These are not things that you necessarily learn from your mother or grandmother because they came from a time when there was less interplay between the regions and cultures of the world. They didn’t think there was a difference!

It is magazines and books that keep all of us up to date, inspire us and tell us about things we’ve not heard of before. And for that to happen there have to be teams of people gathering that information and putting it together in tempting publications. These teams of people need to make a living. If readers are going to steal digital copies off the internet or pilfer in the old fashioned way by photocopying their friends’ magazines and books, it goes without saying that these teams of publishers can no longer sell enough copies of their publications to make a decent living and will cease to exist.

The next reason why I reject the idea of embroidery books and magazines in digital format is because for me, personally, I want the real thing in my hand.

When it comes to novels and other books that are ‘just words’, my Kindle is my favourite device. In fact, I would go as far as to say that it might be the best gadget that I have acquired in recent years. I read before I go to sleep every night and when I’m travelling, reading is the treat that I give to myself in order to endure long haul flights and interminable waiting at airports. I can take all the books that I might want to read on a trip in one handy little device that fits in my bag and I whip it out the moment I am seated on an aircraft, or in an airport lounge. The same goes for my iPad. Quite apart from sending and receiving emails, I read the ‘newspapers’ on this little gadget before I get out of bed every morning. I use it as my telephone directory, my dictionary and my encyclopaedia. It’s also meant that I can live a relatively paper-free life. Documents that I need to refer to often are not printed. They are stored on my tablet and referred to from there. It’s always on, always connected and constantly in use.

But not for embroidery books or magazines. I have bought precisely one digital embroidery book and subscribed only once to a digital embroidery magazine. In each instance, I didn’t go back for more choosing, instead, to purchase the real thing. It’s just not the same when its on a screen. It needs to be on paper, not shining out from a screen that decides to switch itself off all too regularly. I think that, even those who have chosen to go completely digital, would agree with me if they tried it, instead of just thinking about it. Yes, it’s slightly cheaper in digital format but it’s not the same and I am always prepared to pay the extra to have the hard copy shipped to me.

The proliferation of digital publishing coupled with the state of the world’s economies means that times are tough for publishers of magazines and books, particularly if their subject is as ‘niche’ as embroidery. Fabulous magazines have disappeared off the shelves, never to return. They are the victims of the fallout caused by the adjustment to the internet. I suppose there has to be an adjustment but I find it rather sad that these publications had to go for that to happen and I’m not sure that there is yet anything that has proven to be a suitable replacement.

One that remains, for now, is Inspirations Magazine. Probably because they have always been, for me, the best of the bunch. On Friday, however, they sent out a call for help. If they don’t manage to increase their subscriptions in the near future they, too, will go the way of the others. And we can’t let this happen.

I’m not a person who supports lost causes and I don’t believe that saving Inspirations Magazine falls into that category. It is worth saving not only for us but also for future embroiderers. If that magazine were no longer available to me, I would be very sad. It’s always a feast for the eyes, quite apart from the information it provides. The peripheral events too. Beating Around The Bush embroidery convention, needlework cruises, newsletters that keep us up to date on new products. If the magazine goes, those will too and it’s hard to imagine how much poorer we will be.

If you agree with what I’ve said in the previous paragraph and you are in a position to subscribe, or to give a gift subscription to someone special, get your credit card out of that dark place in your wallet and go to Click on all the right buttons and help to give Inspirations Magazine the power to continue publishing. It’s something worth fighting for.