Friday, 10 January 2014

Flippin’ heck!

The local CAMRA magazine Opening Times has now been made available online in “flippable” form – you can see the January 2014 issue here. You can read my deathless prose on Page 5; other highlights are the write-up of the rather disappointing Didsbury stagger on Page 7 by some bloke who may or may not be connected with me, and the rather poignant description of the history and closure of the Tiviot in Stockport on Page 15.

While obviously I have a vested interest, I think it’s a very good publication as such magazines go, with a clean, uncluttered layout, a range of voices from a wide variety of contributors, and a welcome absence of a strident, hectoring tone (looks in the general direction of Preston).


  1. As I mentioned on twitter, the stagger was a brilliant piece. Warnings that pubs are places of vinegary beer, sky high prices and acknowledging the local Spoons was the best bet. Refreshing honesty in a CAMRA publication.

  2. Martin, Cambridge10 January 2014 at 21:54

    By far the best CAMRA newsletter, because local members go to and write honestly about any pub, not just the same half dozen multi-pump houses. Last Orders from the Staffs/Warwickshire borders is comparable.

    I really appreciate the efforts of all the volunteers who put these things together and get them in pubs though.

    Have to say I often get the impression you've enjoyed the pubs more than the beer on your crawls though !

  3. Certainly for me the "seeing life" aspect of going in various pubs is one of the most interesting things, even if the beer may be a bit variable. Spending the night in the Magnet drinking 57 varieties of hoppy golden ales can become rather dull.

    For various reasons on the Didsbury stagger, the Fletcher Moss and Royal Oak, which are normally reliable bankers, fell short of expectations.

  4. Seems good to me. My local CAMRA rag 'Canny Bevvy' has regular pieces about pub crawls - out of the area and in different counties - which I really don't want to read about in a magazine promoting cask beer in their area. It includes puff-pieces about their favourite dumps and ignores the mini-wave of excellent (but fairly trendy) new pubs that offer very good cask beer.

  5. I'd say there's a place for pub-crawls of places that readers are likely to visit, such as, in the Stockport/Manchester context, Chester, Sheffield or York. However, "What I drank on my holidays" articles are pretty much always tedious.

  6. I get to read Opening Times as it's delivered to the Poachers and it's always a good read.

    These flippable PDF readers are a good compromise and do the best job possible of rendering what is ultimately a document rigidly formatted for paper.

    I read What's Brewing the same way but that's a bit worse as it's formatted for such a bigger format page.

    I hope that branch magazines carry on for a long, long time but suspect there will be pressure to also format for the web/mobiles. I hope this can be a complimentary thing but the problem there is more work for the editors - formatting for multiple formats.

    We face the same uncertainty at work whereby most medical documents are A4 formatted but the people reading them are moving more and more to electronic devices.

  7. Always a good read Opening Times , glad that its back online, as I do miss the occasional hard copy. I've not seen the north mcr magazine that has just started- but it'll be have a tough task on it's hands to be half as good as this.

  8. Thank you sll for your kind words - we continue to tweak OT and are keen not to rest on our laurels.

    I have from time to time run pieces about drinking abroad but I have restricted these to places within easy travel of Manchester (generally Belgium and the Netherlands so far) but they only appear on a very occasional basis and tend to be more of "if you go there try this" rather than "what I did on my hols"

    And Rob - never forget - paper is your friend, it will never let you down.

  9. The target market for a paper publication and an online one are very different. Paper copies of OT and similar magazines are essentially something people might happen to pick up in the pub, read a bit and hopefully find it sparks their interest. You don't get that serendipity online. Pubs are "physical world" things that by definition can never retreat into the digital environment.

    It's also notable how little response I get online to the printed articles in OT despite always giving the link.

    Computer-savvy people often underestimate how little use many people actually make of the Internet.

  10. I don't disagree with anything you say there mudgie which is why I said long may they continue. I doubt many people read the online versions to be honest. But if you're considering putting a magazine "online" by some mechanism, unless is purely for archive then there are better ways to present the information. Consider newspapers or trade magazines like the "Morning Advertiser". Available in both paper and online but the later is formatted differently. To be honest, most of this is aimed at What's Brewing which I think CAMRA, if it's serious about cutting print costs/saving money for campaigning, should be presented in a more "Morning Advertiser" way online. The flipable version is okay, just - but the "page turner" analogy doesn't and shouldn't be preserved online forever.

    >Computer-savvy people often underestimate how little use many people actually make of the Internet.

    Err, can't let this one go ;-) Just look at the number of people who sit around tables looking at their phone using the internet... anti-social? Hmm, maybe for the >50 generation but maybe just different social for the new generations. If I go into the pub alone, I usually get out my phone and read the BBC news. No different IMO to sitting in the corner reading a newspaper or a book.

  11. Response is not the same as readership. I was sat with a group the other day and they all read OT-including yourself-online.

    I'm not keen on the flipable version, either. A straight PDf is far better.

  12. I prefer the electronic version. I can read it at home with a can of lout and don't have to venture into dangerous and scary pubs full of actual people in order to read it.


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