|Circulation||11,372 (Jan-Dec '11)|
|Company||Dennis Publishing Ltd.|
The magazine contains news, reviews, articles, and classified adverts covering many popular areas of computing (both in hardware and software areas). The magazine's articles are targeted at many different levels of expertise, from beginners' tasks (such as working with Word documents, setting up a simple wireless network, or building a watercooled PC) to more advanced articles (such as working with Linux kernels or becoming a shareware author).
The magazine is also notable for being the only publication in the UK to still regularly cover the Amiga market, most magazines having abandoned coverage of the format in the years following the collapse of Commodore.
Micro Mart was launched in November 1985 as a fortnightly publication consisting of classified advert listings for the computer trade. The magazine soon expanded in editorial content to include articles and reviews from many realms of computing. It became popular with both amateur and professional system builders. In 1991, due to reader demands, Micro Mart moved to a weekly format.
On 14 November 2002 (issue 723) the magazine moved to a full colour format, having previously been printed in black and white. At this time, Micro Mart also expanded in content (for example Ask Jason moved from 1 to 2 pages).
Since then, the magazine has celebrated its 20th birthday, its thousandth issue and had several design changes, the most recent in 2011. It has seen readership increase regularly with weekly sales currently averaging around 25,000+ in 2006.
Micro Mart was initially published by MicroMart (UK) Ltd. Owners Stewart Somerville and Roy Perrin, along with Stewart's wife Fiona, controlled publication and distribution of the magazine until 28th February 1995 when Trinity Publications (a subsidiary of the Trinity Mirror group) bought the company. On 12 June 2006 the magazine was bought by Dennis Publishing Ltd.after a deal brokered by Ian Savage Publishing. Subsequently, the magazine has now joined the ranks of titles such as Computer Shopper, PC Pro, and Custom PC.
The magazine remains under the editorship of Simon Brew, whose leadership in recent years has seen the magazine solidifying its sales and readership figures at a time when traditional print media is being squeezed by the Internet. When questioned on the Micro Mart forums about the takeover, Mr Brew promised that the takeover would not affect the magazines future; "Well, I've spent quite a lot of time talking to Dennis over the past few weeks, and I'm happy enough to be relocating my family a good 100 miles or so south after listening to what they have to say. As a MM reader way before I even wrote for the magazine, I understand the worries over changing ownership. But it's not the first time MM has been sold to new owners, and it's still going strong.".
Micro Mart has several quirks that help give it an identity. For example, the disclaimer printed at the end of the magazine is ended with a short insight into the news and events in the editorial office. A more recent feature of Micro Mart is the images of the regular experts placed alongside their columns. These initially started as colour photographs which, after a recent redesign, were replaced with stylised cartoon versions. Initially these were greeted with enthusiasm by the readership but a second redesign of the magazine (replacing them with new sepia line drawings) caused much controversy with many forum contributors calling for a return to photographs . This reaction prompted the magazine to tone down the images by printing them in black and white instead.
As well as this, there are several other quirky additions to the magazine that do not contribute to the 'normal' content. For example, a recent regular feature of the news section has been Tales from the Towers (Micro Mart Towers being the pet name for the editorial offices used by magazine staff and contributors). Written by staff writer Michelle, this section gives a light-hearted look at the weeks events in the editorial office. The recent takeover has seen both the offices move from Birmingham to London and Michelle leave the team; TFTT became Tales from the Shed written by editor Simon Brew for a while, but currently isn't being included in the magazine (though it may return at a later date).
The magazine is the only English language commercial magazine to still have a regular section dedicated to the Amiga platform (this article recently celebrated its tenth birthday). This came about after readers requested such coverage, after several requests the Amiga section was launched.
Many sections in the magazine are devoted to reader contributions. The regular caption competition invites readers to submit a caption for a computing related image. A less regular (and more recent) addition is called Readers' dives. As the name suggests, this feature prints images of readers computer rooms (or dives). One section that has gained more response in recent months is the Windows Crashing feature, where readers send in pictures of Microsoft Windows going wrong in public places (such as cash machines or photo booths). This particular feature has been replaced on one occasion with 'EVE Online Crashing', a news story / user submission hybrid featuring a crash occurring during the advert break of an EVE online Tournament.
In late 2005, the editorial team introduced readers' reviews. This section was intended for reviews of computer products submitted by readers, but a lack of response caused it to die out after a few months.
Micro Mart has a commitment to involving readers as much as possible in the publication. Many of the lead articles have been written by readers, and for some this has led to them pursuing a career in journalism. (Many of the magazine's current experts started in this way). According to editor Simon Brew, 95% of Micro Mart's Content is written by freelance journalists.
Micro Mart also has a large online community based on the website's forums. Currently there are slightly over 10,000 registered users (although a much smaller number regularly contribute). The forum is divided up to cover several topic sections (such as retro computing, Linux or gaming) and has a core group of contributors who answer questions and queries. The board is moderated by volunteers who each monitor different sections.
The Micro Mart chat room is connected to the forums, most regularly used between midnight and 2am every night by certain forum users and moderators, there was also a monthly early evening meeting organised by Jason d'Allison (from the Ask Jason magazine column) where he answered questions. However, in October 2008 Jason D'Allison announced that the chatroom had "run its course", and the final official monthly met was held in December 2008.
A Micro Mart blog was set up in October 2005 but was abandoned quite quickly. After the move to Dennis Publishing, some new members of the Micro Mart editorial team have attempted to revive it, but it is still only updated sporadically.
- Editor: Anthony Enticknap
- Deputy Editor: Kevin Pocock*
- Bonus John: John Moore*
- Designers: Laura Jane Gunnion
- *also writes features and reviews for the magazine
A list of regular sections (inc. editorial) in the magazine, listed in accordance with the magazine's Current Layout:
- Features - A variety of articles on a wide range of computer-related subjects produced by freelance writers. They usually consist of a single lead story as well as several (approximately 8 each week) other pieces.
- On Test - Reviews and comparisons of computing hardware, software, and peripherals
- Group Test - Weekly group test of computer hardware/software. Recent tests include office suites, a roundup of the latest motherboards and AM2 processors. The rating system takes into account quality and value (with each being marked out of 10), from these an overall mark (again out of 10) is awarded. At the end of the roundup the overall best product is awarded Editors choice whilst the runner up receives a Highly recommended.
- Reviews - General reviews of the latest computer hardware/software. The products are reviewed by a variety of freelance reviewers and awarded marks out of 10 in the same way as the group tests.
- News and Views - News, editorial, and letters from the PC world
- Specialists - Commentary by six experts on computing fields of interest
- Beginners' Linux Mart (defunct) - Tips for using Linux for the first time, replaced in issue 1068 by Linux News
- Linux News - Latest News from the Global Linux Community, replaced Beginners' Linux Mart in issue 1068
- Amiga Mart - Amiga-related news and views, celebrated its tenth Anniversary in issue 1068
- Retro Mart - Retro gaming and old computers
- System Builder - Advice and tips from a professional PC builder
- Gaming Weekly - Weekly coverage of gaming news, containing separate columns for both online and offline news.
- Classified Ads - Free classified adverts
- Experts - Expert Q&A pages from four contributors
- Ask Jason - Technical computer questions
- Ask Aaron - General system building/software questions
- Ask Gordon - Programming and web development questions
- Ask James - Internet Security questions
- Logging Off... - One of the magazine's contributors ends the magazine with a short commentary/editorial piece.
- XWord - A Crossword Puzzle with Computing Terms