Do you want to read for free?
PRAGUE - It's Monday morning and a rack for the cultural magazine Houser in the passage of Slovansky dum is empty. A waitress behind the bar smiles to apologize: "No wonder, those kind of magazines are in favor. We are given loads of them on Thursday and by Saturday they are usually all gone." (Con't below image) >>
It is not because of God-knows-how interesting content. Even the most bored patient in a hospital would not spend more than a half an hour on those fifty pages. But Houser magazine bet (just like English/Czech Think Magazine), on absolutely easy accessibility. It is for free, that's why almost everyone reaches for it whether in clubs, cafes or restaurants.
"When we started in October, we decided to go for the name Houser. But it does not mean anything, it definitely does not give a preferential treatment to a house-dance style," claims the chief redactor of the enterprising weekly magazine, Marta Paduchova.
"To connect an exhausting program with reviews, interviews or reportage was tried already in the past in the monthly magazine Exit. It went bankrupt last summer. It cost twenty five crowns and there was not more interest in it than in free ordinary cultural program, as we do now," explains the producer of Downtown, Miroslav Silhavy.
Another similar magazine, the bi-monthly 14, has been out for five years. It costs fourteen crowns but the free competitive Houser has not taken away any of it's readers, so far. "Mainly because they are unbelievably faithful," thinks the chief redactor, Anna Vancova. "But I believe another reason for it is because Houser does not do anything completely - neither cultural program nor articles."
The reader does not have to be a specialist in mass communications to be able to agree with her. Magazine 14 offers professional graphics, complete cultural program, and interviews with interesting people, plus enlightened reviews. Thus, under the same initial conditions, does not give the ugly Houser, printed on dirty news paper with some colors, the slightest chance.
On the top of it, reviews in Houser are often unnecessarily longwinded and outdated, plus many articles seem to be hidden advertisements. "On the page for technology there is no advertisement at all," says for example the chief redactor Paduchova. Nevertheless, readers are informed that it is useful to buy an accumulate vacuum cleaner Euras for their households...
Another unnecessary luxury is also the TV program, which lacks even the smallest information about introduced showings.
But the fourteen-crown price of 14 magazine is it's disadvantage. "I can not exclude that one day our magazine will be also for free, says Vancova.
Think is mainly for tourists
English speaking tourists in clubs and pubs usually grab the bi-lingual monthly Think Magazine. It proved the possibility of survival, based only on advertisements, in the Czech media market. It has been offering articles in Czech and English for five years. "The print run has been increasing, now it's fifteen thousand issues," indicates the chief editor Michael Kyselka.
The reader of Think magazine is given a lot of interesting information about what's happening in the town in sort of a fortuitous way. But the less confidential the Think guide is, the more heterogeneous and first rate are its articles.
Its fifty pages are filled with information about smart fashions, ecological studies, political notes, interviews, trends or short stories from budding writers. In the back there are also crazy moment-pictures of people in dance clubs.
...and Karel is for Czechs
The monthly Karel magazine is publishing an impressive one hundred thousand print run. It is distributed for free by Karlovy Lazne, the biggest music club in the Czech Republic.
"We are the only Czech club which publishes it's own magazine, for all that. it is an absolute matter-of-course in Western Europe," wonders the chief editor Ludek Hrzal.
"The magazine seems to us an effective publicity of our program, better than posters glued on walls," he adds.
A very colorful mag, which points out only what's happening in the four stories of the club, came out in September for the first time. Thanks to that, more Czechs finally started to visit Karlovy Lazne. Their numbers can nowadays compete with foreigners.
Any of these magazines would sell from a news rack to probably just some reader-experimenters. But they come handy to everybody who vanity wait for their friends in a cafe or consider the possibility of hitting downtown at night.
Text: Tomas Polacek, translated to English by Hany Sevcikova