Over the past 20 years or so, there have been a lot of magazines and newspapers that specialize in pretty narrow niches, yet still remain generally available to the public via bookstores, libraries, and direct subscriptions.
What is the most obscure and/or narrowly focused periodical that is at least nominally available to anyone via either direct mail-order subscription, a bookstore, or another generally accessible route? This excludes periodicals that are intentionally only sold or made available to people who meet prequalification criteria, such as belonging to a specific organization, attending a specific school, etc. So the Lake Wobegon and Podunk Unified School District Monthly Audiovisual Technology Policy Advisory Bulletin probably doesn’t count, even if it exists, because copies are only distributed to current faculty and staff.
For the purposes of this question, I will exclude refereed academic journals as they are already well known for being of limited interest and there is already a great deal of information available about them elsewhere.
For example, can I subscribe to Northern Michigan Disabled Vietnam Veteran Goat Farmers’ Quarterly? The Nonagenarian Bellydancer’s Fashion Weekly?
It is very obscure. You wouldn’t have heard of it.
I wouldn’t have heard of it either.
My newsletter is the most obscure. I have just (as in, “just now”) begun a newsletter outlining my plans to do good works using money bequeathed into a testamentary trust for that purpose, with such monies to be paid back to the estate after ten years with interest.
My newsletter is called “Leave Wellanuff a Loan.”
Anyone may subscribe to it for a $499.95 annual rate for six bimonthly issues.
Well, what is the most obscure publication that you have read, or at least heard of?
I would like to subscribe to your newsletter…
You can still subscribe to a dead tree version of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
Only $209 per year.
The online version is free.
Since obscurity is a matter of opinion, let’s move this to IMHO.
General Questions Moderator
I am a bit of a magazine hound and subscribe to all kinds of offers for free ones. I get some extensive lists of really obscure ones to pick from sometimes so it is going to be hard to pick a winner.
I can give you two that caught my eye though because I found it hard to believe they even existed:
Trailer Life is one that I am sure many people find compelling (it isn’t quite what you may assume by the title but I wish it was) but the most notable has to be Modern Drunkard (yes, it is a real magazine).
The most obscure magazine that I ever subscribed to was Massachusetts Wildlife because it was free. It is a little spartan in content because Massachusetts has plenty of wildlife but almost nothing that is unique to the state.
It probably does not fit your criteria, and probably is no longer being published, but I did once (in a British college library), come across Panicle: The Newsletter of the Wild Oat Advisory Service.
Searching, unsuccessfully, for evidence of it online, I found the USDA’s Oat Newsletter (not so wild, though). From it, here is the American Oat Workers Code of Ethics for Germplasm Exchange.
I once looked at an issue of Brickjournal, a magazine for lego enthusiasts, and thought it was pretty obscure. Then I noticed an ad for RAILBRICKS, a magazine for lego train enthusiasts. I never subscribed, but I wonder how far the rabbit hole goes. Lego train caboose enthusiasts?
Oh, we get plenty of obscure stuff here at the liberry. I guess it depends on what you mean by “obscure”. Dutch Fork Digest is a genealogical newsletter which is not at all obscure if you are a genealogist who lives in Dutch Fork. Or, say, we used to get Amusement Business (it died) which seems like it would be really specialized but all the homeless guys read it because it had job offers for carnivals and such coming into town. Lots of small circulation titles which are local, of course. Home Shop Machinist, not too many of those around but those that are, are gonna want that magazine. I finally convinced the boss lady that we could let Idaho Magazine go. Because we are in South Carolina. Coach and Athletic Director? Saudi Aramco World? Economic Indicators? Romantic Times Book Review? Library Resources and Technical Services? South Carolina Geology? Ex-POW Bulletin? All of these are non-obscure to the right group of people.
ETA - how about Music Clubs Magazine? Off the top of my head I’mma vote for that one.
There are all kinds of obscure bird and other natural history journals. I’ve published in Malimbus, the journal of the West African Ornithological Society, and have reviewed articles for Zeledonia,a Costa Rican bird journal.
My favorite obscure scientific journal was the now-defunctWorm-Runner’s Digest.
I had always thought the American Book Review was pretty obscure, since it is published by the head of the English department at our modest local public college here in BFE. But actually it seems to be pretty well respected as a niche publication in that field.
I saw one centered around people who are in the custom billiard cue-stick industry. Apparently it is a business with special lathes and ways to make them.
I like alternate history stories. There’s a magazine - unimaginatively titled Alt Hist - that publishes AH short stories. I read it but I figure it probably has a relatively small readership.
My contribution at this time, The Fence Post. It is rural news from Colorado & Nebraska. It is a free rag out here.
I recently heard about Shuttle, Spindle & Dyepot, a magazine for home weavers.
That’s people who weave at home, not people who weave a home.
I vote for Garden and Gun. Neither topic is particularly obscure but they somehow don’t seem to go together that well.
I once temped for a publishing company that produced several small trade publications and some had circulation of as little as 10,000 people. Most of those were around the performing arts.
Nowadays though blogs put most of those out of business.
I’ve always felt that Obscurity is in the Mind of the Beholder.