Twist Collective & Knitting magazine publication models

If you haven’t seen the first issue of the Twist Collective, you should definitely look at it. There are some absolutely lovely items. The articles are all free and almost all the patterns cost $6 or $7, so unless I am about to make one of them, I won’t be acquiring the patterns. The publication is trying a new publishing model, with a major goal to fairly compensate designers.

Alternative web serial publications models are an interest of mine. Yes, I do realize I will probably go against the name of the blog, but I will stay focused on knitting publications. The different knitting magazines I look at have distinctly different approaches to the web.

1) Knitter’s Magazine is a traditional print publication. They do a good job of showing current and past patterns in their gallery. Other than that, their online presence is pretty dull.

2) Vogue Knitting is a traditional print publication with a website that has some added content, including web exclusives. They have charts for many patterns on their site. It makes little use of previews or of images from past issues. Last winter, they redid their site and tried to add more interactive features, KALs etc. but what I really want is pictures of all the patterns in the current (and past!) issues with the yarn requirements. No one does this, but it is what I want.

3) Knitty is completely free, but is structured much like a traditional publication. It has had some of the most popular patterns in the knitting blog world, probably in part because they are free and therefore so easily accessible to everyone. And of course because they had had some really good patterns. (The 4 patterns listed first in Ravelry as the most popular all come from Knitty – Fetching, Monkey, Calorimetry and Clapotis). I have made several things from Knitty, but if they weren’t free, I’m not sure how many I would have made.

4) Interweave Knits has images of current and past issues (at least of the ones in stock). They include additional pictures of garments, but these aren’t easy to get to for past issues. They have also added Knitting Daily, a blog/email newsletter with chatty and instructive information. One interesting feature is the gallery where a few garments from an issue of IK are modeled on Interweave staff members, with comments about how the garments should be altered for their body type. They have also begun selling individual patterns from out of print issues. This is great for the consumer, but I think it might not have been great for the designers. I don’t know what kind of rights agreement people sign, but I have the impression that once Interweave has paid a designer, it is Interweave’s forever, to publish (or not) in a compilation or as an individual download. With the web, some patterns become runaway success stories and the designers don’t seem to receive any additional compensation for a blockbuster pattern.

5) Twist Collective has free articles but the patterns cost money. They seem to cost more than the IK patterns, which I find interesting (especially since you can buy all the IK patterns in one issue or in a book for far less money than it would take to buy everything in a TC issue). The designers/authors also retain rights to their patterns/articles to republish in the future or work into longer articles. I really like this bit (SPARC and all that). The cost per article idea is OK, like buying one song. However, one song generally costs about a dollar, which means buying a whole CDs worth of songs costs about the same as a CD. In this case, one pattern from the TC costs almost as much as one whole issue of a magazine. I realize that individual patterns are often priced at a similar price to the TC (or even more), but I am having a hard time getting my head fully around this model since it is a magazine. If it was a website with really cool patterns you could buy, I don’t think it would bother me as much, so I think it is semantics and mostly my problem. The group of designers for the first issue is fabulous–I wonder if they’ll be able to keep up the momentum?

It will be interesting to see how all this looks in a year.


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