Big Publications Changes
Stamp Collector and Minkus Catalogues Cease,
Scott Stamp Monthly Goes Back To True Magazine
By Lloyd A. de Vries, The Virtual Stamp Club
Amos Hobby Publications has purchased the stamps division of Krause Publications, which includes the Minkus catalogues and album pages and the bi-weekly Stamp Collector newspaper.
By 2004, Chet Krause, the founder, was pretty much out of the picture. His firm had only acquired Stamp Collector and Minkus from Capital Cities/ABC because he considered himself a Stamp Collector and had always wanted philatelic publications. But Krause's bread-and-butter was its other publications, such as those for gun collectors, record collectors (which Wayne publishes), and so on.
Stamp Collector has printed its last issue.
Krause "purchased the entire stamps division, all the stamp operations that F&W had acquired when it purchased Krause," Amos Hobby Publications editorial director Michael Laurence (photo, right) said. "The 9 semi-trailers of stuff are soon to be leaving Iola to schlep things down here."
At the same time, Amos' Scott Stamp Monthly is going back to being a magazine (called a "slick," for the paper it uses) with better color reproduction.
"I'm very happy about the circumstances of the sale. It shows that Stamp Collector and Minkus have been built back into much stronger, desirable properties again," Krause stamps editor-publisher Wayne Youngblood (photo, left) told The Virtual Stamp Club, meaning important enough for Amos to acquire.
But were they?
"Ever since they went to fortnightly, Wayne's protestations to the contrary, they haven't competed with Linn's," Laurence told The Virtual Stamp Club. "If they want hard news they go to your site [The VSC] or they go to Linn's."
Stamp Collector had been "shut down before we acquired it," said Laurence. F&W, Krause's parent company, had already decided to "put it peacefully to sleep." But Amos has no plans to attempt resuscitation.
Amos will "continue to maintain the line of Minkus albums and supplements," he said, but not the Minkus catalogues. "To the extent that there's something in the U.S. catalogue that can find a home in the Scott catalogue, we will do that."
But not the numbering system which, "as far as I'm concerned, is just a liability," he said. "I think the stamp hobby is better off without competing numbering systems."
Youngblood and writer-editor Fred Baumann will stay with Krause Publications on non-philatelic publication, as will the salespeople.
Youngblood was already publisher of Gold Mine, Krause's record collector publication, and its records division.
With the ending of Stamp Collector and the Minkus catalogues, there will be "no additions to staff at all," Laurence told The VSC. "We don't anticipate any additional jobs."
"I'm personally disappointed that I won't be directly involved professionally with the hobby now," Youngblood said.
The closure of Stamp Collector leaves philately with one viable hard news print publication, Amos' Linn's Stamp News.
"The SC offered a different style of articles and was more directed to the average collector," said Curtis Gidding of Curtis Gidding eBay Stamp Store in The Virtual Stamp Club message board. "As an advertiser, I am greatly disappointed that Linn's will be the only option."
"Without the threat of being beaten or corrected on a story by Stamp Collector, Linn's will have even less incentive to put the best effort possible into its work," said Randall Sherman in the message board. "After all, what alternative will its readers have (other than checking out this Web site)?
Stamp Collector subscribers will receive subscriptions to Scott Stamp Monthly.
"Starting with the issue cover-dated October, Scott Stamp Monthly will once again be a slick Time-size magazine," Laurence told The Virtual Stamp Club. "And we are anticipating some additional newsstand distribution as a consequence of this."
Amos has been expanding in the automotive category, and placing some of those publications, plus its Coin Values spin-off from Coin World, in bookstore newsstands. The newsstands of today are quite different from those of 20 years ago, Laurence said. Readers now pull up a chair, sip a latte and browse the magazines in the racks.
"We've learned that our titles can do very well in these bookstore newsstands. We're doing exceptionally well with Coin World's Coin Values, and well enough with Scott Stamp Monthly, which is a bastard size that doesn't fit anywhere," he said. Putting a magazine-like SSM in bookstores "can greatly expand the reach of that publication, which means expanding the reach of the hobby."
Asked earlier in the interview if there had been any thoughts to making Krause's Stamp Collector the "Linn's Light" he had once considered creating, he replied, "Linn's Light will be Scott Stamp Monthly.
"The readers of the Scott Stamp Monthly can expect substantial improvement in the graphic quality of the publication," he added. "We're really pleased about that, because as everybody acknowledges production values have been the major deficiency of the Scott Stamp Monthly since we brought it in-house" in the late 1990s.
"SSM cries out for better paper and better printing - the articles are top-notch, but the tp [toilet paper] they print it on does not make the illustrations attractive or even useful in many cases," said VSC staffer Ada Prill in the message board.
"The return of a true magazine format for SSM will be very much appreciated, said Mark "Margin Blocks" Alan.
"It happens that this whole Krause thing coincided with these plans to make over the Scott Stamp Monthly," he added.
Two years ago, Krause was purchased in its entirety by a larger hobby publisher, F&W. That story was reported in 2002 in The VSC message board here.
Stamp Collector had been hurt by its years as part of the Cap Cities conglomerate. Several years ago, it went from weekly to bi-weekly publication. Consider that in its heyday as Western Stamp Collector, from Van Dahl Publications, it had been published twice a week!
At one point, Krause had looked into purchasing Linn's Stamp News, but Amos wanted too much for it, and also insisted Krause had to take Amos' local newspapers. (Amos later sold those local newspapers separately.)
When writer Kim Frankenhoff left SC to start a family, and Maurice Wozniak retired (he continued working for Krause as a freelancer or contractor), that left Fred and Wayne to put out the entire paper - and Wayne's time was increasingly being taken up by the (more profitable) records division.
The Virtual Stamp Club message board discussion on Stamp Collector and Minkus is here and the one on Scott Stamp Monthly's production changes is here.
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