Tis a bit sad, this. Okay I'm slightly biased as I write for the magazine, but I've read it for some time, and Comes With A Smile really is/was one of the Good Guys in the music mag world. So, this is taken from their website:
A Final Smile? A letter from the Editor
Due for mid-January '06 publication, Comes with a Smile's landmark twentieth issue looks likely to be our last. As long-suffering readers will be aware, Comes with a Smile's history is dotted with periods of inactivity and a publishing schedule that's been erratic at best. Recent years have seen a significant upswing in productivity, with a semi-regular output of three issues per annum with--we'd like to believe--a concurrent increase in production values and quality of content that represents true value for money in a market dominated by advertising-driven "competitors".
Sustaining this output over the past eight (yes, eight) years has always been reliant on funding from unsung individuals who soon come to realise that lofty entrepreneurial ambition must be unceremoniously swept aside in favour of pride at a job well done. One after another, those who have dipped into their pockets to maintain and enhance CWAS's visibility have come away with a stack of magazines, a handshake and a significantly depleted bank account.
Comes with a Smile continues to be a bedroom operation in every conceivable sense. Anyone calling to speak to the "accounts department" or "someone in advertising" expecting to be put through by a honey-voiced receptionist will, instead, be greeted with a monotone "yup" or "that's me" from yours truly. (That ping in the background is the microwave signalling my lunch is ready.) From this same West London room have sprung the last fourteen issues of Comes with a Smile, shaped via e-mail by a group of contributors motivated by enthusiasm for the music that encompasses (and effectively defines) what the magazine is "about". Reluctant to be confined by genre and frankly oblivious to (and frequently appalled by) what constitutes "newsworthy" elsewhere in the media, Comes with a Smile's raison d'Ãªtre has always been to engage with our readership via conversations with and critiques of musicians and music that we deem "important" (without the elitism that suggests), and the overriding impression from your response is that we have succeeded. "So why stop now?" you ask.
It's become increasingly apparent in recent months that a profitable future for CWAS remains a distant dream, a fact exacerbated by the positive steps we've taken distributing the magazine overseas in ever-increasing numbers. Such steps have enhanced Comes with a Smile's reputation globally whilst hindering us financially to the point where a cry of "enough is enough" emanated simultaneously from both the magazine's current benefactor and your editor. In short, we've become victims of our own success. Furthermore I'll admit it's been tough to sustain my various roles at the magazine without a salary and the idea of entering a ninth year further in the red than at any time since our inception in 1997, seems a foolhardy "career move" at best. To stop now feels less like turning my back on something and more like turning around to face the wolves who have sat patiently on my doorstep for too long.
The closing of the covers should, at the very least, signal a major overhaul of the website, ensuring every printed word is preserved online. Ideally such an undertaking would encourage a more pro-active attitude towards the site as a regular source of up-to-the-minute reviews and interviews. Bandwidth permitting it could provide a desirable digital resource for our sought-after musical rarities as well. But yes, I agree (and indeed happily take credit for), the appeal of CWAS is largely tactile and its collector status cannot be replicated with a website. However, in the absence of any unexpected monetary intervention of lottery-win proportions, comeswithasmile.com at least offers us a continued presence in the world.
To practical matters. As of today, we are closing the subscription link on the website. We will continue to take orders for single issues (including #20 nearer publication) until our stocks are exhausted. All current subscribers will receive a full refund for any issues after #20 for which their subscription would otherwise have been valid. Subscribers who paid via PayPal will have the unused balance of their subscription refunded via PayPal, and those of you who have subscribed by cheque should please email Mark at firstname.lastname@example.org with details of how you would like your payment to be made. We can only make payments in UK sterling.
To my left there's a cupboard where a set of Comes with a Smile is tucked safely away "for posterity". I think when issue 20 arrives back from the printer and my library copy takes its place on the shelf, I'll leave the few remaining inches of space emptyâ€¦I reckon there's room for a few more yet.