Thursday, October 28, 2010


Hey guys, just dropping in to give a status update on the magazine.

I picked up the run from the printer yesterday ready to ship them out to retailers (pre-orders were supposed to ship today) but unfortunately, I had to reschedule shipment. Quite simply, everything was screwed up.

The beautiful glossy paper I ordered was replaced with matte stock. Pages were printed out of order. One page was printed upside down. Pages were off-center. It looked about as professional as a misspelled flyer for a car wash.

I've put in an emergency order with another printer, and it should be ready to ship Monday. I sincerely apologize for the slight delay, but I could not (in good faith) send the magazine out looking like that.

On a positive note, I've learned a lesson: in the world of digital, on-demand printing, you truly get what you pay for. Also, if your printer speaks barely any English, then you're probably in for a real surprise when you pick up your order...

Friday, October 22, 2010

So... what kind of a magazine is it?

I was asked that question twice the other day. I thought the people asking it meant ‘What kind of stuff do you write about?’ and I proceeded to answer somewhat smugly, "It's an ephemeris about snuff."

What they actually meant was ‘What kind of magazine is it in terms of aesthetic qualities?’ and it hit me; I hadn't really discussed those details yet.

Firstly, as I explained in this Snuson thread, the magazine is engineered to last. The book is meant to be stored away for future reference, and not tossed out with the evening's trash once it has been read. The page stock is coated, heavyweight, archival grade, acid-free 100% bright white bond. It's guaranteed by the manufacturer to last at least 127 years in average conditions. The cover stock is a similar glossy-coat stock that is likewise archival grade, though not quite as strict a grade as the interior. It is nigh impossible to get a really deep gloss coat that is also rated for archival purposes, so I got the shiniest, thickest cover stock I could find and still be within the bounds of what is considered "archival grade."

The size of the magazine is a source of contention for me. Originally, I planned it as a tabloid size (think Rolling Stone before it shrunk into its new smaller size), but the overwhelming response to tabloid shape was negative; it seems that people find the format too bulky and uncomfortable to hold. I understood that people wanted a more traditional shape, although I still was going for as big a page size as possible, so that I could fit more material into each issue.

This brought me into the standard 8.5x11" territory that most magazines fall into. You would figure that since this is the most common format for periodicals, it would also be the most economical choice. WRONG. It would have been cheaper for me to go with the tabloid size, even though it is much larger than standard size! It's like walking into a car dealer to buy a Toyota Camry, and walking away with a Cadillac Limousine for half the price of the Camry. I'm still trying to wrap my head around that one.

So, reluctantly, I knew we had to downsize. I personally wanted to go with the Reader's Digest size square bound, since this would have given us maximum page count. There was two problems with that though; one, I couldn't get good paper for that format- I would have had to settle for cheap newsprint. Second, the size isn't very big- none of the photos would have come out well and you would have had to strain your eyes to read the fine print. I would never want to torture my readers that badly, so I had to go up a couple of sizes.

That left me with two last options: National Geographic-size (6.5x10") or Farmer's Almanac size (8.5x5.5"). After a lot of deliberation I went with the 8x5 size simply because it offered me more versatility. With the Nat Geo format, I would have been limited on page count, paper stock and binding options. The 6.5x10 size is always squarebound (also known as "perfect" bound).

I did not want the Ephemeris to be squarebound for a few reasons. Perfect binding is OK for smallish paperback books, but not for anything you want to stand the test of time. Magazine squaring is also nowhere near as perfect an art as book squaring; the examples I've seen of squarebound independent zines are poor at best. The glue is lousy and the spines don't hold up well.

I knew that I wanted a stapled/saddle stitched book, and this left me with the Farmer's Almanac format as my only choice. The pros of going with staples over glue are that staples last longer, they fold better, and the spines take less wear and tear than glued squarebound spines. The cons are that stapling costs more than perfect binding, and stapled books don't look as good sitting on a shelf with its spine exposed compared to perfect bound volumes. You can also get a much higher page count with perfect bound books over stapled.

So, in the end, the choices I made regarding the magazine's format came down to what I would want in a magazine. Something that feels good in the hand. Something small enough to be portable while still being large enough to give justice to the content inside. Ink that doesn't run off onto your hands because it's printed on cheap newsprint. Paper bright enough to contrast well with the printed word. But most importantly, I want something that my grandchildren can pick up thirty years from now and still be able to read without the book degrading with each touch.

By this point, you're probably wondering why I'm still going on about the production values of our magazine. I really don't know, except that I wanted to let everyone know that we're not cheaping out on any of the materials we use to make our magazine, even though the temptation was certainly there at times. Even our staples are rust-free high stress grade! We want you to be as satisfied with the book as humanly possible.

Till next time,

Print Ad

Here's the first print ad for the magazine. Let us know what you think. So far, people seem to like the "retro" style tongue-in-cheekiness of the whole thing.

Friday, October 15, 2010

The critics seem to like us so far...

Though we've kept the contents of the first issue under wraps, we have sent out some advance copies of certain articles to reviewers and advertisers. So far, the overwhelming response has been positive. And these aren't just folks that want to tell us nice things to make us feel happy- these are hardcore, masochistic reviewers for militant anti-everything blogs and zines. Every single one of them asked for one thing: more material. Could it be that they've actually found something fun to read? One shudders to think.

Our first issue went up for pre-order late last week, and we have been inundated with orders. To be honest, I didn't quite expect such an amount; I called my printer and decided to double the initial print run, just to meet the demand. If we run out of copies from that run, it is within my contract to strike an "emergency" run to fill orders. After that, no more copies of the first issue. If you want to guarantee a copy of your own, your best bet would be to pre-order soon, before they're all spoken for.

This brings me to another question I was recently asked. Will we sell back issues of The Ephemeris on our website? Yes we will, so long as as we have extra copies laying around. As for subscription services, well, it's not quite as easy to implement as I thought that it might be. Before we start taking people's money a year in advance, we want to make sure we have the right printer. We want to have a long-term relationship with a company that we trust; one that we can count on to go the distance. I sadly do not see this as a possibility with our current printer, so I am hesitant to take advance subscriptions until I know that the books will be ready and shipped out on a timely basis, on schedule. Once we're certain of our printer's capabilities, you can start throwing as much money at us as you want!

Next blog, I'll go into some of the aesthetic details of the magazine.

All the best,

Monday, October 11, 2010

Press Release, First Issue Available for Pre-order

Whoo-wee, talk about a busy couple of days!

Firstly, Larry Waters got an exclusive first interview with us, and it's posted up at Snus Central's front page.

Then, the main site went up, complete with pre-orders for the premiere issue.

After that, Mick set up our Facebook page.

Don't let me forget to plug the Myspace page for the three or four people that are still on it.

That's all for now, but it should be enough to keep you entertained for a few minutes at least. 

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Meet Your Overlords! Me, Mick and the Magazine

I'd like to take this opportunity to introduce myself, RW Hubbard, and my right-hand-man, Mick Hellwig.

Mick and I met some time ago on Larry Water's forums, and we struck up a friendship right away. We had a lot in common; we both liked guns, cars, motorcycles, tobacco and other stuff. We'd swap each other snuff or snus through the mail, etc. When Mick, his wife, and their daughter came down south for the races, they went out of their way to visit me. Good people.

Mick had been writing the occasional article for SC, and I was immediately impressed with his style. Mick, Larry Waters and Andy Romeo are all three talented authors; their columns made me want to express myself better in my posts. Unfortunately, this tended to make me blabber on endlessly, thereby disrupting the flow of the forum threads.

Larry, in his infinite wisdom, decided that my posts would be better served as essays. He wanted me to write a column for SC. I thought he was crazy! I told him so. But he believed in me, so I wrote a couple of articles covering snus and politics. I found that I really enjoyed writing about tobacco history. In fact, I discovered that I really liked writing in general. I have Larry to thank for that.

See, when I was a young punk, I couldn't decide whether or not I should become a musician, a filmmaker, or a writer. I tried my hand at all three, and I found that I preferred to work a 9 to 5 and earn a steady paycheck rather than to express myself artistically and be dirt poor. I even tried to do both, but I just couldn't bring myself to write a hit song after spending all night mopping the puke off of the gas station floor. So I gave up, and drifted into blue collar obscurity.

But Larry made me remember what it felt like to accomplish something. After I'd finish an article, I'd lean back and think "Gee, I just did that." Not that I'm a good writer, mind you; but I know that I can fill up some blank space with a few words and know that it makes some sort of sense.

So, the genesis of the magazine lies in a trip to the dentist. I hate going to the dentist, especially this one in particular. He always makes me wait for at least an hour before I'm seen, and there's never anything to read in his waiting room except for those crappy dental health magazines. There's also a Reader's Digest from 1995 in there that I've read about six times. Lots of news about Bill Clinton in that one.

I meant to grab a book when I left the house, but I forgot to. I had a few minutes to kill before my appointment so I went in the local chain bookstore to find a magazine or two to read in the lobby. Nothing caught my eye, except for a couple of the cigar magazines over in the men's health section. I leafed through them, noting the BMW ads and golf write-ups.  

Where's the cigar articles? I wondered. Not all cigar smokers care about Scotch, ink pens, Rolex watches, Tiger Woods or 401k plans. I just wanted to read about tobacco. That's when it hit me- barring the few cigar books on the stand, there existed no publication devoted to what I feel is real tobacco. Where were the books about snuff? How about its Swedish cousin, snus? Hell, where could I read in print a review of the new C&D seasonal pipe blends?

Something had to be done. All day in the dentist's chair I thought about doing a snus book. That night, I actually printed up a crude ashcan of what I thought the book could look like. The next day, I talked to Mick and told him that we should do a magazine, all about snuff and snus. He thought I was crazy for wanting to do a print mag in this internet-based day and age, but I believe that the more he thought about it, the cooler the concept seemed.

And that's pretty much it. Mick and I have toiled away for the last six months getting this thing together.We've been blessed with a supporting crew of the finest contributors that we could have ever hoped for. We have writers onboard that I can't believe aren't writing for "big" books like Time or Newsweek. Editors like Mick that aren't really only editors; it's just one of the many feathers on the dozens of hats that they wear.

And we hope that you enjoy the book as much as we enjoy creating it. This time next month, I guess we'll know for sure!

Take care,
RW Hubbard

Monday, October 4, 2010


Please excuse the lack of content, we've been really busy getting the first issue together and getting the website up and running.

First, an introduction is in order. The Snuff Taker's Ephemeris is a bi-monthly, full-color magazine that averages between 80-100 pages per issue. Each edition covers the history of snus, snuff and other fine tobacco- from our earliest ancestors, right on through to the present day.

We are scheduled to release the first issue on Halloween night of this year. This date is not set in stone however; the printer I've contracted to do the magazine has been giving me quite a bit of grief over certain issues, and we may be forced to switch companies midway, which could stall the release date. Hopefully, it won't come to this, and we'll have the issue ready for pre-order shortly before the 31st.

Our website is currently under construction, it should be up within the week if all goes well.

So check back here every couple of days, we'll post more news as it becomes available. We'll also go into more detail about who we are and what we do.