A group of football writers are claiming their novel approach to charging for news has achieved ‘unprecedented international success’just two weeks after launch.
The quarterly digital magazine – called The Blizzard after an eccentric but shortâ€lived Sunderland newspaper from 1893 – allows readers to pay what they want for the title despite a recommended cover price of £3.00.
Those behind the publication say that since launch the pilot issue has been downloaded in 145 countries and generated a level of interest sufficient for them to commission a print run just to satisfy early demand.
Issue one of The Blizzard in print will be available through the website in June with the recommend price for print copies £10 plus postage and packing. However, readers can pay what they like subject to a minimum charge of £5 for post and packaging.
The magazine will also be available in digital formats for iPhone/iPad and Amazon Kindle.
Put together by a cooperative of journalists and authors, The Blizzard’s aim is to produce lengthier, more considered pieces of football journalism and avoid competition with blogs, newspapers, TV and other digital news sources.
It counts on its roster a series of wellâ€known football journalists – Gabriele Marcotti, Simon Kuper, Andy Brassell, Uli Hesse.
Writers have a profit share agreement for the title to keep overheads low and to encourage investment in the product.
Jonathan Wilson is editor and founder.
He said: ‘A decade or so ago it was possible to find leisurely, inâ€depth, more esoteric articles in sports supplements.
‘Today, though, even magazines have cut the average length of their features. I’m sure there are sound economic reasons for that – and, for all the flak they get, newspapers remain supremely good at breaking news.
‘But this has left a gap, and that’s what The Blizzard is trying to fill. Why are we seeing it now? Partly because the internet has reduced overheads and facilitated distribution to the point where there is no longer a need for any great publishing apparatus behind a new journal, and partly because fan culture has changed.
‘The fanzine revolution of the 80s spawned a great age of football literature and uncovered an appetite for good football writing, even when it deals with topics far from the usual glamour clubs and players.”