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Strong Words takes an unpretentious look at books
Ed Needham loves books. And he also knows a thing or two about making magazines; he was the editor of FHM in its late 90s heyday, and he went on to edit FHM in the USA, then Rolling Stone and Maxim. But his latest editorial position is altogether more humble – Strong Words is a new magazine that takes a fresh and unpretentious look at books, and Ed is its editor, publisher, marketing manager and van driver.
He dropped into the Stack office to speak about his new publishing project, the ways in which it has changed since it started earlier this year, and how he plans to develop it over the coming months. As is often the case with independent publishers who find they have to do everything themselves, Ed is open about the things he finds most difficult, and excited by the opportunity to tweak all aspects of the magazine as he goes. There will be lots of magazine makers who feel very familiar with his struggles over marketing, distribution and production.
If you enjoy this one, check out our archive on Soundcloud or iTunes for lots more conversations with magazine makers. (If you’re particularly interested in the business side of publishing, you might want to jump straight to our recent episodes with Jeff Taylor from Courier magazine, or Conor Purcell from The Magazine Blueprint.) And remember to follow us wherever you get your podcasts, so we can drop our future episodes straight into your feed as soon as they’re ready.
Magazine veteran Ed Needham decided to launch Strong Words after Dennis Publishing closed the print edition of Coach magazine, the health and fitness title he had founded and edited from 2015 to 2016.
His new title contains book reviews, news and interviews with authors, cover designers and independent publishers.
An avid reader, Needham said books hadn’t been getting the “representation in the media that they deserve”, adding: “They play a really important part in people’s lives and they should get as much attention as, say, films or TV but they just don’t.
“I wanted to produce something that enabled people to know a bit more about what’s out there, because at the moment a lot of people still rely on just wandering into a bookshop and hoping they’ll find something interesting – and sometimes they do, but quite often they don’t.”
Discussing the current provision for book lovers in UK newspapers and magazines, Needham added: “I think if you are of an intellectual or an academic bent then your needs are amply met, but most people aren’t doing a masters degree in medieval literature.
“Most people buy books for fun and there is this tendency among a lot of book reviewers to treat books as homework slightly, almost a pseudo-academic venture, and so books tend to be reviewed in a slightly solemn, serious, chin-stroking way.
“Whereas I don’t think most people read books like that. They read books for pleasure.”
The former Rolling Stone managing editor said his main competition for readers, “like with all magazines”, is time. “There just aren’t the gaps in people’s habits anymore that used to be there that allowed magazines to exist,” he said.
He told Press Gazette he wanted to keep staff costs as low as he could, adding: “I wanted to see if it’s possible to produce something of high quality at low cost.”
Needham believes there are “significant numbers” of people willing to pick up a magazine if it is dedicated to a niche subject they care about.
And something he considered as part of his business plan was his view that “if anyone’s going to want ink on paper, it’s book buyers”.
Strong Words has just marked its first anniversary and ninth issue – although it has already evolved from a tabloid newspaper format to an A4 magazine because, he said, “newsagents didn’t know what to do with it”.
The magazine is stocked in WH Smiths travel outlets, Selfridges and independent newsagents, priced at £6.95 on the newsstand or £6 with a six-issue rolling subscription model.
Said Needham: “The old model of magazine buyers going into a newsagent and picking up a magazine with their crisps and their 20 Embassy [cigarettes] and some biscuits is gone. That’s broken.
“Whereas people are quite happy to subscribe to something, whether that’s a digital service or a physical product, and they expect to have it brought to their house. People don’t think twice about subscribing to things, it’s very normal.”
Needham also made the decision not to give his content away for free online, saying: “If people want to meander around on the internet there is already plenty of content of variable standards, shall we say, [which is] not particularly focused.
“A lot of it doesn’t have a point of view, or tone of voice, or the things that make reviews interesting. I think if people want that they can already get it, whereas what Strong Words aims to provide is something of much more use.
“Magazines have to be useful, and they have to be helpful, and they have to be entertaining and interesting, whereas that process can be a bit too hit-and-miss online.”
Needham’s view is at odds with another former lad’s mag editor, James Brown, who has just taken the helm at football magazine Four Four Two.
Loaded founder Brown told Press Gazette last month: “I think there was a tendency, quite an old fashioned tendency, that [Four Four Two staff] were focusing their efforts on print, but actually the growth for this title will be online.”
Needham edited men’s magazine FHM in the mid-1990s as it grew to its peak, later moving to New York to launch its US edition before joining Rolling Stone.
Reflecting on his “extraordinary” time at FHM, Needham said: “It just felt as though everything we did turned to gold.
“At that time the magazine industry generally was very robust, there was a lot of investment, and with men’s magazines specifically they were just growing at an extraordinary pace with every issue that went on sale… it was a very delirious experience, but at the same time it brought its own pressures.
“With that kind of success there were more pages, it was more frantic, the demands to keep growing were greater, so it was quite an intense period as well.”
Asked what lessons from his career had helped him on his mission to launch his own magazine, Needham said his respect for the sales and marketing side of magazines has changed from his previous “dismissive” view.
“My opinion has swung through 180 degrees and I realise that the arts of sales and marketing are much more subtle and deserving of applause than I realised.”
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I think the manufacturer of your son’s ball mixed in a Swedish word:
Swedish, n.: an axe
The photograph above is page 22 of the Swedish children’s book Vill du läsa I (“Would you like to read [vol I]”) by painter Elsa Beskow. The J above it is for julgran, the Swedish word for Christmas tree.
I say this on the basis that:
I checked several thesauruses, like you, as well as Wikipedia’s category for axes, and while I found adze, chopper, cleaver, hatchet, mattock, tomahawk, twibill and so on, I found nothing approaching a word with an initial y.
I used OneLook.com’s reverse-dictionary functionality to search for “words starting with a y and having a meaning relating to axe“¹ and the only thing suggested was : “a long Turkish knife with a curved blade having a single edge”. An image search tells us that no ball-maker would confuse this sword-like blade for an axe.
Going one step further, I checked Wikipedia’s comprehensive list of bladed weapons, and from all countries, throughout all history, only 3 start with an initial y: yanmaodao (Chinese), yari (Japanese), and yatagan (Turkish). These are all sword-like weapons, not axe-like, and as mentioned in the previous bullet, of the three, only yatagan has made it into English dictionaries.
I used an online tool named Translatr to translate both axe and hatchet into 90+ languages, and cross-checked these with the manual translations on Wiktionary, and literally the only word of those ~200 options which started with a y was Swedish yxa.
Cross-checking the translation from Swedish back into English confirmed that Swedish yxa is English axe. And indeed it is used in Swedish children’s primers to illustrate the letter y, as you can see from the children’s book excerpt above.
As for the other symbols on the ball, we can analyze which letter-symbol pairings make sense in each language. Here I’ve tagged each pairing with ✅ to indicate “the name a toddler would shout out for the depicted object starts with the corresponding letter”, ❌ for “no, it doesn’t”, and ❓ for “this pairing merits further discussion”.
As you can see, because most of these words
are loanwords to both languages (like kangaroo or giraffe), or
are loanwords from English to Swedish (like jet[plane]), or
have [proto-]Germanic roots shared by both English and Swedish (like house and mouse), or
are completely artificial coinages (like xylophone)
most pairings are sensible in both languages.
All told, in Swedish there are 8 words which simply do not fit, not to mention that, as @jkej points out, a Swedish ball would also have to present the letters Å, Ä and Ö, and would possibly choose to omit W. This rules out the possibility that this is a ball made for the Swedish market.
For English, on the other hand, outside the mysterious Y, all the pairings use straightforward, non-suspicious common nouns an English-speaking toddler would be familiar with 4.
Except for one. That U-boat is Swedish-fishy.
Almost no one refers to submarines as U-boats in contemporary English. Quoting @tchrist’s response to that information:
… especially how a submarine or “U-boat” picture that got used for the U, given how uncommon a word for a sub that U-boat is in English these days – and to a toddler rather than to a great-grandfather who might actually remember them.
Which is evidence against the maker of the ball being completely familiar with English as she is spoke.
The submarine could be seen as circumstantial evidence (although not very strong) for some kind of Swedish mix-up explanation. Although U-boat is an English word, it seems a little strange to use it in this context. But in Swedish ubåt is the only word for submarine.
I used Google Image to examine some English alphabet posters and it seemed like almost all of them used umbrella or unicorn for U, but none of them used a U-Boat. Similarly, I found several Swedish alphabet posters with ubåt for U, although uggla (owl) was more common. I can also confirm that yxa was very common for Y.
And indeed it’s easy to turn up Swedish pedagogical material having both Y = yxa and U = ubåt, like this one from the Swedish site imgrum.com:
But it doesn’t stop there.
Following @jkej’s lead on chúng tôi I found the manufacturer is Ball, Bounce and Sport Inc.5
This is page 32 of their online catalog (you need to install Adobe Flash; their PDF catalog is broken 6):
Item G: 54-4155; #10 A-Z Phonics; 0-33149 04155-9
However, though chúng tôi listed “Ball, Bounce and Sport Inc.” as the ball’s manufacturer, upon visiting BB&S’ site, one immediately notices the headers and copy all immediately point to another name:
Structurally, Ball, Bounce and Sport Inc. was once a subsidiary of Hedstrom, and through a series of fits and starts in the last century, eventually took ownership of the Hedstrom brand, and now is doing business as Hedstrom.
That is, Hedstrom is the ball manufacturer’s preferred name for branding purposes. Which is interesting, because the name “Hedstrom” is Scandinavian; per Wikipedia’s article on the surname:
Hedstrom, Hedström and Hedstrøm are surnames of Swedish and Norwegian origin
So is the name Hedstrom indicative of Swedish influences on the ball’s manufactoring process?
The Smart Business article linked above on BBS taking ownership of the the Hedstrom brand notes:
BBS owns 98 percent of U.S. and Canadian rubber ball markets and a growing percentage of the rotational molding market.
BB&S’s Hedstrom Entertainment Division makes play balls and other toys in Asia
But what about Sweden? I’ve read several different histories of Hedstrom. The accounts are confusing and at points seemingly contradictory, involving many name changes.
But the salient event was in 1981:
Eagle Rubber started making balloons out of a garage in 1916. The company grew and spawned an industry that led to Ashland becoming the balloon capital of the world. The company eventually added lines of plastic play balls. It was bought out by Hedstrom Inc. in 1981, which went bankrupt in 2004.
But if Eagle was the company who built up the play ball business, whence the the acquiring company, Hedstrom? According to this column of Harry Rinker, who is an antiques appraiser and thereby somewhat of an historian:
Carl H. Hedstrom, E. Gustaf Hedstrom, Knute W. Hedstrom, Wilfred P. Shuffleton, and Walter Beaman founded the Hedstrom Company, Gardner, Massachusets in 1915. … The Hedstrom Corporation still exists. Its Bedford plant produces outdoor gym sets, play balls, toys, etc. The Dotham operation is toy focused.
Thus the name Hedstrom originates from three Swedes in 1915. The catalog above is dated ~2012, and page 32 lists several of the playballs as new, but not the phonics one, so it’s not clear when the ball was first produced. But certainly a century passed between the reason for naming the company Hedstrom and producing the ball.
So, with a century and countless mergers, bankruptcies, and restructurings intervening, the Swedish name Hedstrom, while intriguing, cannot be adduced as evidence that the Y stands for yxa.
I reached out to Hedstrom via their online contact form, Twitter, and Facebook. They replied to me this morning via Facebook:
They confirm your ball is not an official Hedstrom A-Z Phonics ball. The official ball has a yo-yo for the letter Y. The Hedstrom ball also has a UPC and producer’s mark.
Further, Hedstrom confirms they do no business internationally (outside Canada, one assumes), and they’re not aware of any specific producers who have a known history of copying their designs.
A second customer service representative actually responded separately to my contact via their website, instead of Facebook. She did her own forensics, and corroborated that Hedstrom’s opinion is that this is a knock-off ball:
Thank you for visiting our website and for your online inquiry about an ABC Playball. Unfortunately, I do not believe this ball was manufactured by Hedstrom. I’ve attached an image from our QA files of our ball for your reference. Some of the things that tip me off that this is not our ball are the elephant and kangaroo colors. Also, there is considerably more white space on you ball whereas ours has more designs. So, just for fun, I visited our samples department hoping to find this ball and I was able to find and inflate a sample of our ball. Our playball has a Yo-Yo for the letter “Y”. Another way you can tell is whether or not there is an official Hedstrom legal patch. This patch would contain our name, Hedstrom Corporation, our address, our website, made in China in three different languages, a UPC barcode with the number 0-33149-04155-9 and a four-digit date code. Our inflation valve should be concealed in the Robot “R” picture, too. I’m not sure if your ball has our legal patch or not or where your inflation valve is located, but these are just a few of the way we identify our products. It’s probably not impossible for another manufacturer to find and use our designs as these are rather old for us and are not licensed or trademarked.
Hope that helps solve the mystery for you. But we are of the opinion that this is a knock off and not an official Hedstrom produced playball.
One last follow-up, and she shared the history of the ball, to the extent she was able to dig up:
The records that I can still access tell me w e created this ball in 2004 and first sold it in 2005. The last one was sold in 2008. Our records don’t indicate ‘who’ might have been the designer at the time.
So that trail runs cold. The ball is a knock-off. Let’s examine it in more detail for clues.
Indeed, additional analysis reveals that your ball and the Hedstrom ball are very similar, but not identical. There are some differences which have to be taken into account.
In particular, @H Walters points out that the layout – that is, the positions of the symbols relative to one another – are different in your photograph than in the catalog thumbnail for the Hedstrom ball:
K and E are shared designs between the two images. The neighborhood around K and E are very different, however; in the OP image K and E are adjacent and at each others’ “9 o’clock” ( E being oriented differently); Q is at K‘s 6, and Y at K’s 7. In the catalog K and E aren’t even adjacent; we can see E‘s entire neighborhood (from 1 to 12: BMDGHL), and K‘s neighborhood that can be seen is JIDA. So at the very least, if they’re the same ball, K and E are repeated, which makes little sense.
And, as @m69 further points out:
It’s not just that the lay-out is different; look at which part of the letter E is covered by the elephant’s ear; that’s different too.
Note also that in the photo of the ball that Hedstrom sent me, V is used for vase, not volcano, R is for robot, not rainbow, and the drawing of the nail for N is a slightly different style than on your ball.
Finally, at @jkej’s prompting:
It would add to the “circumstantial” evidence if we could find out the full set of pictures/words used on the original Hedstrom ball. Particularly, it would be very interesting if we could confirm that:
All words that are not sensible in English (i.e. Yxa and U-boat) were absent from the original.
All words not sensible in Swedish were present on the original.
If (2) holds it is possible that all words added to the knock-off were taken from a Swedish source. Given the pictures of the original that we already have, we only need to confirm that Owl, Queen and W orm were on the original to prove (2).
I asked my contact at Hedstrom, and she replied:
The ‘U’ has a red and white UMBRELLA. The ‘O’ has a brown and yellow OWL. The ‘Q’ has a QUEEN with white hair and a yellow crown with red & blue jewels. And ‘W’ is an orange and red WORM.
Based on this, @jkej’s analysis is:
I’d like to underscore that I think the answer from Hedstrom was a BIG step forward. It may seem like a dead end, but i t conclusively tells us that A) the pictures on the ball came from two distinctly separate sources, B) the general impression of an English ball can be fully explained by one of the sources, C) the pictures from the second source are better explained in Swedish. These were things we could only speculate about before.
So a third-party made a knock-off version of the ball, not unusual in Asian manufacture, and introduced these differences, and perhaps picked up some Swedish contagion in the process.
To confirm that, we’ll have to pick up the scent of this mysterious DNE you found near the valve of your ball.
But to do that, we have to start at the other end of the trail. I’ve reached out to Lojas França via email and Facebook. The email bounced, but there’s still hope they’ll reply on Facebook.
Meanwhile, an informant, @Brad Koch, has it from some good sources in shady corners of the internet that the ball has been found. From @thedrake on HackerNews:
I found the BALL manufacturer!!!!https://www.alibaba.com/product-detail/Alphabets-print-ball_573748097.html
And what do we spy in the SW and SE corners of the right image (zoom in):
Our suspects! Hiding in China, right where our intelligence said they’d be. And all the other images match as well.
Now to track down the manufacturer of these knock-off balls.
Nature of Business: Exporter‚ Manufacturer Industry: Toys & Games Product/Service Range: Toys and Games Major Market(s): * Eastern Europe * Western Europe
So while Hedstrom is not responsible for the axe on your ball, there is one last piece of evidence that Y= yxa.
We find the ball again on a Swedish user’s Pinterest page.
In fact, this one of only 3 sites I could find anywhere on the Internet with an image of your ball 7.
After all this, one thing is certain. Since the original designer of the ball, an American company whose employees are native speakers of English, used yo-yo to illustrate y, we know the intended word is not English.
Overall, adulteration of the ball with Swedish words seems indicated, though far from definitive.
But it’s the best theory I’ve got. Except of course for @Vincent Fourmond’s conclusion that we’re dealing here with a .
¹ I also tried “and related to”: hatchet, chop, and cut, even though the latter two words are verbs and all the other symbols on the child’s ball represent concrete nouns. Nothing material emerged.
² We could make a case for N also fitting for Swedish, as @konaya points out, by observing the depicted object could as easily be a tack, which is ubb in Swedish.
³ Note that the E and K which are on the northermost latitude in the photograph have different orientations, and the symbol always has the same orientation as its letter (i.e., the top of the symbol shows you where the top of the letter is) so there is no concern that the W for worm might be M for maggot or anything.
I say this because I wondered for a moment whether the illustrator mistook Y for an upside-down h in hatchet.
4 Which, taken as a holistic pattern, makes the theory very dubious.
5 Since this question was asked, the chúng tôi product page has been removed, with no redirect. Likely that’s due to the the popularity of this question causing many people to hit that page (which listed an out-of-stock item), causing needless load from their perspective. But through shrewd parameter hacking, @biolauri got Google to serve up a cached version. A screenshot is available here, for when the cache inevitably gets flushed and also disappears.
Note that the UPC / barcode is the same as in the catalog, 0-33149-04155-9, but the item number differs. The ~2012 catalog has 54-4155, but the 2013 price list has 54-41554. This may be a typo, or it may be additional substantiation that one UPC may be used for different versions of the product.
7 One potential risk here is that the chúng tôi page was dynamically generated just for me, based on cookies set during the course of my research into “Swedish” and a young child’s toy. Note the Swedish header translates to just a generic a “check out these fine products”, and all the products offered are to toys for young children, related to reading, and all the descriptions are in English. But I think the risk here is low: I found the site through a reverse image search on Google, which suggests it pre-existed my research.
Unscrambling strong through our powerful word unscrambler yields 43 different words. 43 anagrams of strong were found by unscrambling letters in S T R O N G.
The words from letters S T R O N G are grouped by number of letters of each word. Total 43 unscrambled words are categorized as follows;
S T R O N G are grouped by number of letters of each word. Total 43 unscrambled words are categorized as follows;
We all love word games, don’t we? Everyone from young to old loves word games. We remember the days when we used to play in the family, when we were driving in the car and we played the word derivation game from the last letter. Whether you play Scrabble or Text Twist or Word with Friends, they all have similar rules. But sometimes it annoys us when there are words we can’t figure out. Actually, what we need to do is get some help unscrambling words. Some people call it cheating, but in the end, a little help can’t be said to hurt anyone. After all, getting help is one way to learn. What you need to do is enter the letters you are looking for in the above text box and press the search key. For example have you ever wonder what words you can make with these letters STRONG. Our word unscrambler or in other words anagram solver can find the answer with in the blink of an eye and say 43 words found by unscrambling these letters STRONG.
Playing word games is a joy.
Most unscrambled words found in list of 3 letter words. Strong is 6 letter word. strong has 10 definitions. Definitions of strong can be found below;
Definitions of strong
strong having strength or power greater than average or expected
strong not faint or feeble
potent having or wielding force or authority
potent having a strong physiological or chemical effect
impregnable immune to attack; incapable of being tampered with
solid of good quality and condition; solidly built
strong of verbs not having standard (or regular) inflection
hard being distilled rather than fermented; having a high alcoholic content
strong freshly made or left
firm strong and sure
See definition of strong in Merriam Webster
Words from letters S T R O N G
Words that made from letters S T R O N G can be found below.
6 letter words made by unscrambling strong
1 different 6 letter words made by unscrambling letters from strong listed below.
5 letter words made by unscrambling strong
4 different 5 letter words made by unscrambling letters from strong listed below.
4 letter words made by unscrambling strong
15 different 4 letter words made by unscrambling letters from strong listed below.
3 letter words made by unscrambling strong
16 different 3 letter words made by unscrambling letters from strong listed below.
2 letter words made by unscrambling strong
7 different 2 letter words made by unscrambling letters from strong listed below.
Unscrambled two word anagrams of strong
Below list contains anagrams of strong made by using two different word combinations.
We couldn’t find any two word anagrams of strong.
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