Medieval Warfare Magazine is a new publication for those interested in the military history of the Middle Ages. Published six times per year, each issue is packed with articles on battles, weapons, and armies, along with news and reviews. The magazine is now available in major North American book stores.
The magazine comes from Karansaway Publishers, who also have been producing Ancient Warfare magazine for several years. We interviewed Dirk van Gorp, Editor of Medieval Warfare, about his plans for the new magazine:
You have already been publishing Ancient Warfare Magazine – how did you decide to expand your publications to take on the Middle Ages?
When my colleague started our first magazine, Ancient Warfare, his first goal was to make sure that this issue would fill the vacuum which existed in within the world of military history magazines. At that time, some 6 years ago, there were only a limited number of magazines about this theme, and most of them were written in French or Spanish. Those English military magazines which did exist focused mostly on military history in general, with a clear emphasis on modern or early modern history. Thus, it was decided to launch a magazine which would fill the gap, and which would focus exclusively on ancient times. Because my colleague had a lot of contacts within the community of ancient warfare enthusiasts, both scientific and amateuristic, he had a clear idea of what kind of magazine would be best. On the one hand, it would be a magazine aimed at a broad audience, with information accessible to both professional historians and enthusiastic amateurs and with plenty of historically accurate and relevant pictures and illustrations to illustrate the articles. On the other hand, it was deemed important that all articles were directly based on modern historical research in order to provide our readers with the most recent and relevant information available, composed by both professional historians, as well as amateuristic but knowledgeable writers.
After Ancient Warfare was launched in 2007, it quickly turned out to be a success. After 4 years of publishing, the circulation was quadrupled, both by the rapidly growing number of subscribers and the fact that the magazine became available in large bookstores in, amongst others, the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada. Once we realized that there was a great demand for such a specialized military magazine, and once Ancient Warfare was firmly establishing itself within the ancient military community, we started to look at the next step to take.
It quickly became apparent that there were almost equally few magazines about medieval military history. The French and Spanish magazines which did exist were certainly very good, but there was little to be found for the English-speaking medievalist primarily interested in the military aspects of his or hers favorite period. Luckily for those same medieval enthusiasts, part of this vacuum was filled by a great number of books focusing on the theme, as well as excellent sites like Medievalists.net and several others, but it was clear to us that there were many people – historians, wargamers, reenactors, as well as many other medieval enthusiasts – who were specifically interested in medieval military history, while at the same time there was no magazine on the market which focused exclusively on this topic. Thus, we decided that it was time to start working on launching Medieval Warfare magazine, built along the same lines as Ancient Warfare, but focusing on the Middle Ages, of course.
After much preparation, Medieval Warfare was launched in May 2011. After one year, it has been successfully introduced in the global medieval military community, and it’s growing every day. Once it became apparent to large American distributors that Medieval Warfare provided the same quality as its predecessor, and that there was a substantial market for such a magazine, they decided to order large numbers of our magazine to distribute amongst their major US and Canada book- and magazine stores, thereby tripling the circulation. Starting in May 2012, Medieval Warfare is available in many Barnes & Noble and Chapters bookstores in North-America.
The magazine business is notoriously hard to be successful in – a few years ago Medieval History Magazine only lasted just over a year before it had cease publishing. How do you think you will be able to make this magazine a success?
Of course, we are very well aware of the risks involved in launching a new magazine. There are a lot of costs involved in the process, and for us perhaps even more so because of the fact that we aim to provide the best authors, pictures and illustrations available. Launching a magazine is one thing; making sure that it survives the first five years is quite another. Medieval History magazine is one clear example of the possible outcome we might face in a few years. But even after those five years, the work is hardly done. Quite recently, one of the major military magazines in the US, active for nearly 25 years, had to shut down as well because of a lack of funds to keep publishing. Thus, it has always been clear to us that we hardly have an easy task ahead of us.
There are never any guarantees that Medieval Warfare (or Ancient Warfare, for that matter) will stand the test of time and survive the first five years, let alone the next 25. However, we are certainly familiar with the risks, and we are doing all we can to make sure that our readers can enjoy Medieval Warfare, with the same quality as they are used from us, for a very long time.
In order to remain active for a long time, the first we intend to do is to make sure that we can continue provide quality for a suitable price. We have a large network of authors willing to write high-quality articles, and for which they receive a fixed price in order to guarantee the quality of their work. These include both expert historians, like David Santiuste, Stephen Turnbull, and Matthew Bennett, renowned professionals such as John Clements, and knowledgeable amateurs and PhD-students, like, for example, Sidney Dean, Nils Visser and Kai Grundmann. Furthermore, we are always trying to give new authors the opportunity to test themselves. This guarantees a certain amount of variation with each new issue, and it provides us with the opportunity to offer new views and theories alongside the more commonly accepted traditions. In addition, we have a large selection of artists and map-makers available, including men like Graham Sumner, Johnny Shumate, Darren Tan and José Daniel Cabrera Peña, amongst others. All these people are working very hard to make sure that every issue of Medieval Warfare consists of high-quality articles illustrated with historically accurate and unique artwork. Aside from this, every article contains many unique and suitable pictures to further augment the overall appearance of the issue. As I said before, there aren’t many other magazines about medieval military history available for the English-speaking community, and thus the direct competition is limited. Nonetheless, there are many excellent and books with which we will always have to compete, and thus it is our main goal to keep up – and, if possible, improve – those high standards with which we have entered the magazine market and the medieval military community.
One more important aspect which will help us remain an important player in the medieval military magazine community is the fact that Medieval Warfare magazine (like the books and other magazines we publish) is published by a professional publishing-company, Karwansaray Publishers, which guarantees the continuity of our products to a certain degree. This helps in keeping our magazines going even when times are a bit rough.
We might be historians ourselves, and thus sometimes a bit pre-occupied with the past, but we are very aware of the digital world we live in. Social media, e-readers and digital information is here to stay, and we certainly don’t ignore these aspects when publishing our magazines, despite the fact that we, as a publishing company, are mainly working with the printed word. In fact, we started selling our products in our webshop at first, and only expanded towards book- and magazine stores later. The easiest way to order our products remains via our webshop, which you can find at http://www.karwansaraypublishers.com/shop/, or via our own website at www.medieval –warfare.com. Furthermore, aside from our website, we are quite active on Facebook (look for Medieval Warfare magazine) and Twitter as well, with which we keep our subscribers updated on developments regarding our magazine, and on which we post information of interest to our fans.
More importantly, we’ve recently started with offering digital subscriptions to Medieval Warfare, which can be ordered at a much reduced price. With this subscription, readers can easily download an issue and install it on their e-readers, so that they don’t have to carry around a printed copy when on their way to work or on holiday. And the lower costs might be an important perk for certain subscribers as well. Nonetheless, our beautiful artwork and high resolution pictures, as well as the overall appearance of each issue, look much better in print than on the screen of a computer or e-reader. Thus, our main area of focus remains the printed version, at least for the time being.
As I mentioned above, our articles are written by authors with extensive knowledge of medieval military history. An author should be able to write articles for a broad audience, with a smooth easily accessible style, but consisting of information directly based on modern historical research. While we are often working with professors, PhD-students and professionals, everyone enthusiastic about medieval military history and with at least a basic knowledge about a certain subject is more than welcome to write for us, assuming, of course, that their work is well-written, based on modern research, and of sufficient quality. Anyone interested in contributing to our magazine (both authors and illustrators), can send an email to [email protected]. More information and certain guidelines about writing an article for our magazine can be found on our website.