The Story Behind the Latest Pinball Magazine

Pinball Magazine cover

Hopefully you have heard of the new magazine totally dedicated to pinball. It is named oddly enough Pinball Magazine. If you have not ordered your copy of the first issue, what in tarnation are you waiting for?

This is easily the best print publication to come out for pinball in several years. Yes it seriously is that good. From the layout, the paper, the writing, the interviews…it all is seriously top-notch and pretty shocking for a version one on anything to be this good. So we had to talk with the man himself that brought the game room wold this delicious pinball goodness.

The man himself, Jonathan Joosten was willing to tell us a bit about the magazine and his thoughts and vision about it.

Have you published magazines in the past? Why pinball and why a print magazine as opposed to something in a digital format?

Yes I have. I used to write articles for theDutch Spinner Magazine, which is published by theDutch Pinball Association. In 2006 I became editor of that magazine and was responsible for the magazine for three years, four issues per year.

During that time I gave the magazine a complete makeover: new structure, new features, new lay-out, more pages. Eventually I found a new printer who could print the magazine in full color instead of black and white for a reasonable price. That was a huge improvement, although by then content-wise the transformation was mostly complete.

At some point Martin Ayub ofPinballnewstold me that if I produced the magazine in English, it would probably be the best magazine on pinball in the world. That was a nice compliment, but it also got me thinking. In 2009 I quit as editor of the magazine.

In 2011 I had an idea for a pinball book with interviews with people from behind the scenes, and Roger Sharpe was the first person I approached to be in that book. It turned out Roger had a lot to say and I didn’t want to leave anything out. I figured that if each of the people I wanted to feature in the book had a similar amount to say it would take several years to complete the book – and by then the first interviews would probably be out of date.

So I then decided to change the book into a magazine, and each issue would be some sort of special on a certain person or topic. It would be easier to publish and if all went well it would become a nice series of specials that documented the careers of people from the industry like no other magazine did.

It seemed to me that such a publication should have a nice, clean, modern lay-out, much like of a coffee table book. I wanted it to be a bit classy and the glossy paper format seemed just right.

Distributing adigitalversion seemed like a bad idea: I’d seen how e-books are shared, just like to MP3s and I doubted if that would make a very solid business-model. Plus I don’t think an e-book is special or collectible.

I also feel many pinball enthusiasts of over thirty prefer to hold a physical book or magazine rather than read an e-book on a tablet or something like that. Thee-bookthing seems to me more natural for the young generation and also more suitable for weekly or daily publications.

How often do you plan on releasing magazines? Will there be a subscription model or will they just be offered for sale individually?

I hope to be able to do two to three issues a year. However, that largely depends on the people I hope to interview and the time they have available. Due to the nature ofPinball Magazine, with each issue being a special on some specific topic I reason it would not be fair to do a subscription. If my next issue happens to be about a designer someone doesn’t like, or an era of games that someone doesn’t care about, then with a subscription they’d end up getting a magazine that they wouldn’t have chosen to buy.

So for now I’ll just sell the magazine on an issue-by-issue bases. That way people won’t have to spend money on something they may not be interested in.

It looks like the feedback from your first issue has been largely positive. What bit of feedback was the most surprising and unexpected?

While I was hoping for some feedback, the amount of comments I received surprised me. I’m very happy to see how well the magazine has been received.

When the magazine came out someone on a forum commented that he didn’t understand whyRoger Sharpewas featured in so many books as he didn’t like any of his designs or the games he was involved with. I replied to that post by naming some of the games in this guy’s personal collection that wouldn’t have existed if Roger hadn’t been involved in arranging the licenses for them.

So the guy bought the magazine and changed his mind. He had no idea Roger played such an important role, and it’s nice to see people are open to learning more about a person like Roger and appreciate his efforts more after reading the magazine.

As for surprising comments: there was one person who saidPinball Magazinewas the best thing to have happened to pinball since the invention of the flipper. That was really nice to read.

Roger certainly has had his hands on a number of games, more than people realize like you said. To make you feel better, I thought it was cool seeing him on the cover. My thoughts were “this is a grounded publication…they are not just putting up a picture of the latest pinball machine.” Showed me something different and that you have a sense of history.

Thank you.

So are sales of the first issue better or worse than you expected so far? Have you already started on your next issue?

Sales of the magazine are in line with what I expected, and for a first issue I have no reason to complain at all. I’m very happy with the current sales and the response to the magazine. Eventually I may have to do a second print of the first issue, but that will take a few more months. The biggest surprise for me turned out to be the impact of social media.

Issue 2 is being worked on, but it could still go in various directions. I did start with some interviews, but they haven’t been completed yet. Things are still flexible and they may very well end up in issue 3 or 4.

There are several specials planned for future issues, but it also depends on the people involved and their availability. Usually they are very busy. I also got some suggestions for people to feature and I’m currently looking into those as well. I expect issue 2 to be ready some time in the Spring of 2013.

Editor’s Note: We would like to thank Jonathan for his time and for bringing the pinball world such a great new product. To learn more about Pinball Magazine or to place your order please visit

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