APRIL 1, 2017 — LEOMINSTER, MA — Juiced.GS, the world's last and longest-running print publication dedicated to the Apple II, is finally eliminating traditional hardcopy delivery in favor of a more reliable distribution method.

"Relying on the United States Postal Service to deliver our magazine has resulted in several cantankerous subscribers, especially in Australia," grumbled publisher Ken Gagne. "We've explored alternative carriers — UPS, FedEx, DHL — and not one offered the the satisfaction guarantee that Apple II customers deserve."

Concluded Gagne: "Sometimes, if you want it done right, you have to do it yourself."

Starting immediately, all Juiced.GS subscribers will enjoy personal hand delivery of their issues. As a preliminary trial run, customers in select test markets received their March issues directly from Gagne, resulting in glowing praise. Carrington Vanston, host of the prolific 1 MHz podcast, gushed:

I don't know if I'm supposed to give away the secrets of the 8-bit publishing star chamber, but I can tell you non-subscribers something you might not know about Juiced.GS: when you subscribe, every issue you receive has been hand-lettered in gold-flaked ink by ex-Apple employees. And then — then, Ken Gagne puts it in his car and he drives it to you anywhere in the world (he's got like a Chitty Chitty Bang Bang kind of car) and he hand-delivers your copy. He comes right into your house — you know, breaks in or whatever — and then he places it right on your coffee table, squares it up all nice and neat with a t-bar. The presentation is amazing. I mean, okay, sure, he usually, you know, goes through your fridge or whatever, but this is the kind of service you just don't see anymore from the mainstream press. You really only see it from a publisher who's had the foresight and the dedication to collect the wisdom and the, you know, the actual brains of the great magazine publishers of the eighties. You should see his collection! It's — it's … it's frankly terrifying.

Juiced.GS subscribers will know their issue is en route when they spot the magazine's unique branded vehicle coming down the street.

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

The official Juiced.GS delivery wagon.

"I look forward to visiting our loyal subscribers wherever they may live, day or night — whatever it takes to ensure every customer, everywhere, is reading every single word and sentence we slaved over," Gagne menaced. "Apple II… FOREVER!!"

As a consequence of this improved service, Juiced.GS is changing its publication frequency from quarterly to annually, to allow time for delivery. The last customer is scheduled to receive their next issue in March 2018. Renewals are now being accepted.

December 31, 2016 · Comments Off on Shipping fees now charged on back issues & software

Juiced.GS has several business practices that make us unique. One is that our subscriptions follow the calendar year: instead of starting when you subscribe, they begin in March of the year you've subscribed to. Although not an industry-standard model, synchronizing everyone's subscriptions makes them easier to manage — which is especially important when the magazine's editorial staff, publisher, sales & advertising team, and circulation department are all just one person!

We have another practice that was also intended to make life easier, but over time, has had just the opposite effect: we've never charged shipping fees on our back issues, instead selling them at a flat rate to all customers, regardless of where they live. This policy was created twenty years ago to avoid the complexity of calculating and charging rates based on weight and destination.

However, postage rates have increased faster than production costs, to the point where shipping internationally is now a break-even ordeal at best. And with last year's introduction of the Opus ][ product line, we're shipping more products than ever before. Fortunately, with the rise in popularity of e-commerce, as well as our transition last year to the WooCommerce platform, it's become easier to anticipate and calculate those shipping fees.

USPS logoTherefore, beginning today, all tangible, non-subscription products will incur USPS shipping fees in addition to their base value. Annual subscriptions will continue to be charged a flat fee based on their destination. For all other products, whether you live in the United States, Canada, France, Australia, or elsewhere, separate shipping costs will be itemized, displayed, and charged during checkout. Back issues, bundles, Opus ][, and Friends for Life are all affected; subscriptions, Concentrates, disk images, and PDFs are not.

Since we previously included the cost of domestic shipping in our prices, we're compensating for this change by lowering the price of our bundles. We've even discounted the PDF editions proportionately. Whether you want the first six volumes in the Early Years, the next four volumes in the Middle Years, or the latest 11 volumes in The Modern Years, you can now get these issues at their lowest non-sale price ever.

We apologize for the need to pass these costs along to you, our loyal customers, but we hope that years of online commerce have acquainted you with the practice of being charged for shipping. If you miss our old way of doing things, be sure to sign up for our email newsletter, where we'll occasionally offer coupons for free shipping.

Thank you for your patience and support. We look forward to serving you in 2017!

August 25, 2012 · Comments Off on Floppy disk sleeves & magnetic media stamps

Over the years, I've received little feedback on what Juiced.GS does right or wrong. But never have I heard so many comments, and especially on one feature of our magazine, than I did at KansasFest 2012.

What was it that got everyone talking? Drift, the demo disk that was mailed to subscribers with the June 2012 issue. Everyone was agog that, 35 years after the Apple II was released, they received in the postal mail a magazine with an actual 5.25" floppy disk in it. "That is so cool!" I heard time and time again. "It doesn't get more retro than that!"

To make this disk's inclusion possible, Drift's developers and the Juiced.GS staff bandied several ideas about how to package the disk and magazine. Staples, tape, glue, cardboard inserts, and more were considered. The final approach was made possible by one important component: the floppy disk sleeves, hand-crafted by Melissa Barron.

The disks themselves, purchased from Vesalia Online, came "naked" with no sleeves. Artist Melissa Barron rectified that oversight with her mastery of origami, a process she has documented on her Web site.

A Drift in Juiced.GS

A Drift in Juiced.GS. Photo by Melissa Barron.

The final touch was a rubber stamp I had made that read "MAGNETIC MEDIA: DO NOT X-RAY / DO NOT BEND" with which to stamp the issue's envelopes. I remembered ordering a copy of ProSel from Apple II vendor Charlie's Appleseeds a few decades ago and receiving a 3.5" floppy disk that did not work. I asked him to send it again but this time mark the envelope with the above request. The second disk worked, and I took this anecdote as evidence of the necessity to label software appropriately for handling by the United States Postal Service.

Magnetic media: do not x-ray / do not bend

Magnetic media: do not x-ray / do not bend. Photo by Peter Neubauer.

Is such caution still necessary? Perhaps not. A discussion a few years ago on the KansasFest email list suggested that floppy disks can safely travel through airport X-ray scanners without harm, and the USPS tells me their scans these days are no more powerful than that.

Even had I known that, I still would've marked the envelopes, as it was part of the larger, nostalgic experience of receiving a floppy disk in the mail. It's a touch that did not go unnoticed by Peter Neubauer, who commented on how archaic the warning seemed:

You're walking down a dark alley. Rats, scratching for a bite, scurry behind the overflowing dumpsters. Somewhere in the shadows there's a raspy breathing sound. A windowless padlocked door has an old handwritten sign: "Magnetic Media" Beneath that, barely visible under rust brown splotches: "Do Not X-Ray | Do Not Bend". A cold mist has settled on the ground.

My thanks to everyone who made this collaboration possible, and for the feedback we received that let us know to keep finding ways to reward and surprise our Apple II fans!

September 18, 2009 · Comments Off on Stamp of approval

A typical issue of Microzine.

A typical issue of Microzine. Image courtesy NeighborhoodValues.com.

I grew up with an Apple II in the classroom, where I regularly enjoyed Scholastic's Microzine, a sort of edutainment version of Softdisk. One Microzine game (perhaps Math Mall on issue #22) put players in the role of the proprietor of a a galactic pet store, where they needed to fulfill customers' orders. Shoppers weren't picky about how many or even what kind of pets they wanted — as long as they collectively had the exactly right number of eyes, feet, tails, and other appendages. It might take three space monkeys, two Martian blowfish, and a cosmic coonhound to accommodate their expectations.

Though I haven't seen an issue of Microzine in decades, I don't have to miss this particular game, as I play it every year with the United States Postal Service. With each postage rate increase, I have to determine what stamps to buy to mail an issue of Juiced.GS. For example, it costs $2.92 to send an issue to Australia, but there's no single stamp with that value. What lesser stamps can I combine to come closest to that number? It can't be less than $2.92, but the greater the total is, the more cents are lost. It's an inexact but demanding science.

There are enterprise alternatives to this chore: both Stamps.com and a Pitney Bowes mail meter would let me purchase and apply postage from my own home office. But both require a monthly fee, making them more suitable to companies that mail products regularly. That describes Juiced.GS's former publisher, Syndicomm, which markets a variety of Apple II hardware, software, and publications. But for Gamebits, whose sole product is Juiced.GS, paying monthly for something I'd use quarterly is not economical.

And besides, it's not a great burden to manually address and stamp envelopes four times a year. But it does explain why your issues will be arriving this month featuring lauded authors and wedding cakes. It's not a hidden message so much as it's a manifestation of skills I learned on an Apple II.