Delivering Bicycle Quarterly

Delivering Bicycle Quarterly

Most of the 5800 copies of Bicycle Quarterly are mailed directly from the printer. Then there are those that go to local newsstands and bike shops, and I greatly enjoy delivering them by bike. It’s also an excuse for a ride on my Urban Bike. A box of magazines neatly fits on the front rack. The bike is great fun to ride even when loaded.
Bulldog News (above) is my favorite newsstand. They have an eclectic selection of newspapers and magazines, and they support small, local publications.
Seattle has a great variety of bike shops. The shops that carry the magazine cater to the various alternatives to the mainstream cycling culture. You won’t find Bicycle Quarterly in the local Performance outlet.
There is Free Range Cycles (above), specializing in “real-world” bicycles. Some of the bikes for our “First Ride” test reports were loaned by Free Range Cycles. When I dropped off the magazines, I heard that half a dozen customers had stopped by during the previous week, to check whether the magazine had arrived. It’s nice to see that Bicycle Quarterly generates so much excitement!
Recycled Cycles started in the basement of their current location as a place to buy and sell used bikes and components. I’ve found some treasures there in the past… They still have a selection of used bikes and components, but they now also serve the student population from the nearby University of Washington with affordable new bikes of all types.
Again, it’s nice to hear that the magazine has been selling well. “It’s the only bike magazine that actually sells”, one employee told me: “We sold out of the Autumn issue more than a month ago.” And then he took a copy from the stack, to read during his lunch break. Recycled Cycles has almost as many employees as the number of magazines I delivered (15). I hope that isn’t where they all are going!
The oldest of these shops is Wright Bros Cycle Works. It’s a small shop. At this time of the year, just Charles, the owner, is there. He doesn’t even sell bikes; he specializes in repairs instead. If you prefer to work on your own bike, you can become a member for a one-time fee, and then use the customer shop for the rest of your life. I used to go there frequently before I had my own workshop and tools. Over the years, Charles helped me with many tricky jobs and taught me a lot of what I know today.
It’s fun to see the fruit of our labor on the shelf, but more than a mere delivery, my rounds allow me to connect with acquaintances and friends. There was only one problem this time: The 50th anniversary issue is so big that I had to make two trips, since I couldn’t fit all the magazines on the rack of my bike! Or was that just an excuse to go for two bike rides instead of one?

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Comments (23)

  • David Pearce

    50th Issue!
    It arrived a few days ago to this Washington, D.C. address, but I only ripped the plastic envelope off it this morning. The mailing label says DO NOT BEND. It might be better if the label said CANNOT BEND: So many great pages inside! Beautiful story to read on the first Paris-Brest-Paris, 1891. Fascinating looking profile of the Orient Chainless Waltham, a driveshaft bicycle. I’ve often thought about whether a driveshaft bicycle was as efficient as a chain drive, and the answer will probably be no, but it looks so interesting!
    Thank you for this wonderful holiday treat! Wow. Who knew? The bicycle is really quite a something thing, and I meant to write the former just that way!

    December 10, 2014 at 4:46 am
  • mateo scoggins

    Jan, I just want to say that this issue may be the best ever, and I am so happy to be part of the BQ community. I love that you get out and deliver this to local shops on your bike, and I wish it was a more common mag at shops and outlets here in Austin, TX. I will do what I can to try and get some of my favorite businesses to order/subscribe/retail BQ.
    Thanks for all you do.

    December 10, 2014 at 6:15 am
    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

      Thank you for the kind words. We have quite a few subscribers in Austin, but if you know a shop who might be interested, do let them know. Our presence in shops is a great way of introducing Bicycle Quarterly to people who don’t know it, or have heard about it, but never have seen a copy.

      December 10, 2014 at 6:30 am
  • Jon Gehman

    I get my copy from a friend who subscribes but doesn’t save them, it’s excruciating to know it’s at his house and still have to wait a week or more before I think it’s finally polite to casually ask “Oh. by the way, has the new B.Q. appeared?” when we both know what I’m really saying is “READ FASTER!”
    In the past I justified buying The Golden Age Of Hand Built Bicycles and the Daniel Rebour book from Compass by telling myself I was just using the money I saved by not having my own subscription. Oh well, now the money I save will have to go towards more SKF bottom brackets and Extralight Barlow Pass tires since the ones I got for the new bike I’m building make me want to upgrade my old bike. I’m going to have to find some more magazines to not subscribe to to help defray all that. Maybe Architectural Digest or something, that looks expensive…

    December 10, 2014 at 6:55 am
    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

      I am glad the magazines get shared, but since you enjoy it that much, you may consider getting your own subscription. Amortized over the year, it’s only 70 cents a week… And then you can loan out your copy to another friend, and thus pass along the favor.

      December 10, 2014 at 7:03 am
  • Alex

    Jan, are you planning another ‘special’ delivery (of mags and/or books!) to Europe, to reduce the ‘ouch’ of shipping for your readers over here?

    December 10, 2014 at 7:28 am
    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

      You are welcome to visit Seattle every 3 months and pick up your copy!
      Seriously, overseas subscriptions cost $ 59 a year, less if you subscribe for two years. Consider the cost of mailing the current issue: about $ 11-12, depending on the country. Printing each copy costs about $ 3 (good paper is expensive), and you can see that we are making a loss on many overseas subscriptions. (You are in Germany, where we airship the magazines and then have them re-mailed, saving mostly time and a little money.)
      Here is why we sell overseas subscriptions at a loss: I want BQ to be affordable all over the world. As a teenager, I wanted to subscribe to UK and US magazines, but couldn’t afford them. It may not make business sense, but there are some things that don’t need to turn a profit…

      December 10, 2014 at 11:03 am
      • ORiordan

        Jan, have you thought about providing a more expensive “true” overseas subscription cost or perhaps an optional additional donation? As someone based in the UK, I don’t actually feel comfortable about buying something that means you lose money as I’m assuming that making an overall profit is necessary to sustain your work!

        December 12, 2014 at 1:42 am
        • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

          That is an idea. You also have to consider that the current 50th issue is significantly larger than previous ones. If we add pages, we’ll increase the subscription cost. It may make sense to offer a tiered subscription, with, for example, a discount for students and those of limited means. For the UK, we actually do make money, since we airship all the copies to a friend in Oxford, who then reposts them. Since we have so many UK subscribers, this saves significant money (and time – you often get your magazines before U.S. subscribers).

          December 12, 2014 at 5:55 am
  • djconnel

    Congrats on 50!!! What an excellent 50th it was…I especially enjoyed the description of the in meeting which I wished I could have attended (I was in Switzerland), and loved the story of Paris Brest Paris 1891. There was just a bit of confusion there about whether Jules Terront was racing or pacing, but the story really brought alive the racing of the era and the accomplishment of the winner. Indeed the whole magazine was excellent, a series of enjoyable and informative articles with a bit of advertising, unlike most of the others on that shelf, which are a series of ads glued together with a few brief articles. Yours is a rare magazine designed to be read, not skimmed, and while it’s probably more expensive than the others there, is by far the best bargain.
    Here’s hoping I can I make it north on 2015 (from San Francisco). Unfortunately the contrast with the trains from my Swiss visit couldn’t be much greater.

    December 10, 2014 at 8:24 am
  • 16incheswestofpeoria

    Trying to do my part on the subscription part, Jan. Here’s why Bicycle Quarterly is better than the New Yorker:

    December 10, 2014 at 8:30 am
    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

      Thank you for the kind words.

      December 10, 2014 at 11:42 am
      • 16incheswestofpeoria

        Thank you for your expertise. I’m still trying to figure out how you put out an entire magazine in and among your epic bicycle journeys.

        December 10, 2014 at 12:44 pm
        • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

          We have a dedicated and capable team. (You can see a few of them here.) I could never do it alone.

          December 10, 2014 at 12:46 pm
          • 16incheswestofpeoria

            No doubt. In a way, I could easily describe my interest in the bicycle as Berto to Wetmore. Valuable time and virtual companions, indeed.

            December 10, 2014 at 12:53 pm
  • Guy Washburn

    Hmmm… My issue has not arrived on the east coast. Must be a very long bike ride…

    December 10, 2014 at 6:33 pm
    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

      Sometimes it seems that one could ride a bike faster than the postal service transports what should be “First Class” mail… but overall, they do a good job, even if it sometimes takes a little longer, especially at this time of year.

      December 10, 2014 at 7:41 pm
  • Chad

    As a recent subscriber, this is only my second issue, I just want to say how much I enjoy and appreciate Bicycle Quarterly. I like seeing that you deliver by bike to some of the local shops that I visit. Keep up the wonderful, inspiring, and informative work.

    December 10, 2014 at 7:35 pm
  • David

    I used to pick up my copy in Berlin in a “library specialized in independent magazines”. It used to cost 7.50€, which is very cheap, but they raised the price to 13,50€ now. So i subscribed directly to BQ and thought i would support it that way, but seeing the shipping costs of the US Postal Service, i now understand that the support is rather symbolic!
    Have you ever thought on making BQ subscriptions available on a donation basis (with a minimum donation fee for example)? It could be that you would end up loosing less.
    Making the magazine as affordable as you do is really great, because the more people get to read it, the more people will also support the builders and makers of the components we all treasure. Anyway, keep up the great work!

    December 11, 2014 at 2:15 am
    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

      Have you ever thought on making BQ subscriptions available on a donation basis

      I don’t feel like asking for money like a charity. A business should be make something that people want, and are willing to pay for.
      On the whole, Bicycle Quarterly is making (some) money, and we appreciate every subscriber. If we counted pennies on every product, about a quarter of Compass components wouldn’t exist… We do them because they are part of a larger vision of what a bicycle can be. Perhaps this shows that I have no background in business at all… Bicycle Quarterly and Compass always has been about our passion, not maximizing income. As long as we can support our families’ (modest) lifestyles, that is OK.

      December 11, 2014 at 4:30 am
  • Tim

    Do any bike or book shops in Portland (OR) carry BQ?

    December 14, 2014 at 7:07 am
    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

      In Portland, Kenton Cycle Repair, 21st Avenue Bicycles and Velo Cult should have the current issue. I am sure some bookshops carry it, too, but they usually get it from other distributors, so we don’t know which bookstores carry the magazine…

      December 14, 2014 at 3:16 pm
  • mike

    I’m very glad you are selling it to germany too. I’m very keen to get the famous 50th issue in my hands soon.

    December 15, 2014 at 4:44 am

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