OP MAGAZINE: A New Book Magazine


By: Dee Stewart, Editor – P. Scott Brown, Publisher

OP, a magazine about book culture, collecting and commerce, launched at an interesting time in bookselling history. The word we hear most often about the out-of-print book market these days is revolution. The pace of change is accelerating, and it is fair to say that the business has evolved more in the last five years than in the entire time since Gutenberg printed his Bible. A trade group of Internet booksellers like IOBA is a logical and welcome development to meet those changes and to address the fundamental issues of trust and reliability essential to commerce.

While the buying and selling of books is undergoing tremendous change, it is ironic that the book itself has remained relatively impervious to innovation. The physical format of the book was established a millennium or more ago when scrolls were first folded and bound into boards for easier reading. The invention of moveable type in the 1550s was the last major advance. Techniques for reproducing photographs revolutionized newspaper and magazines in the 20th century but books have not followed suit. The text is still the most important element of most books printed today, and black type on white paper is still the best way to deliver that text.

Electronic books and digital text will grow in importance in coming years, but they are not likely to replace books until a handy device with a long-lasting energy source can be read easily in bed, on a bus, on the beach, or in the bath. Steven Spielberg conducted extensive research with futurists for his movie, Minority Report, yet he still shows commuters reading the newspaper on New York’s subways–although the content was electronic, the format of the paper was unchanged. The picture closed with characters in front of a fire reading books. Books aren’t going away for a long time.

That’s why we decided to start OP (named for the standard abbreviation for out of print), a magazine printed and distributed on paper. We like magazines, books and paper. We believe that our target audience–book collectors, booksellers and general readers–does, too.

We recognize that a print publication needs an Internet component. The Internet has changed the rules of the game for the casual book buyer, serious book collectors, and booksellers of all sorts. On our website, http://www.opmagazine.com, we have posted information about the magazine, the contents of the current issue, an article or two to whet the reader’s appetite, and reviews of books and bookstores. Our subscription page includes secure online sign ups as well as mail-in forms.

OPMagazine.com also hosts an extensive calendar of book-related events, including auctions, book fairs, classes, and author signings. Visitors to the site can post their own events with our easy-to-use Add Events interface. OP costs $21 for a one-year (six-issue) subscription in the U.S. and somewhat more elsewhere. We also cover current events of interest to booksellers and book buyers in an email newsletter. For starters, you can just sign up for the free online newsletter, but eventually it will be available only with a subscription.

Shortly after we announced that we were going to publish OP, one of our subscribers wrote, “We need another magazine. I am always embarrassed that they have more magazines on the subject in England than we have here.” Many interesting topics are not explored in any other magazine and we will do our best to fill the gap. At its heart, OP is about the one thing book collectors and booksellers have in common: the love of books and the printed page. The response to the magazine has been so strong that we think we’re onto something.

The Standard: The Journal of the Independent Online Booksellers Association

Check out the Independent Online Booksellers Association Website