Thursday May 27 2004
© Raimo Kaarna
Your publisher and some of the thousands of letters received lately
from the Signal readers...
Mail to Signal on Tuesday April 15 1997 (!!!!!)
Have you ever wondered what kind of mail your publisher Raimo Kaarna receives from abroad ? Read on, I'll expose penpal publisher's great secrets to you just now... Yesterday I got 30 letters, from around the world, let's read them together.
The first one is from Linda Persson in Sweden. She publishes her own 28-page A5 size photocopied penpal magazine The IPC-Paper. Fine paper, good contents and layout, 270 friends, we swap ad space with each other. The second letter is a paid order, mailed from Hong Kong but sending year's subscription to the printed Signal to be sent to Fred M Wahl in California USA. Danial Hrominchuk in Canada sends the next letter, information about Around A Dollar Mailorder, business propositions welcomed, imports and exports.
Japanese girl called Naoko Nakahigashi from Niigata sends two International Reply Coupons (from your post offices) for a back issue of the Signal. Her penpal listing will be seen here later. Begging letter from Ghana - former Gold Coast in Africa - sent by a school boy, George Osei-Bonsu, age 10. I receive up to 20-30 letters like this daily every now and then, without payments of course. Unfortunately I'm not rich enough to send any Signals free, return postage necessary to get reply.
USA calling, USA calling, multi level money making opportunities, this time called "Co-Operation", sent by Louis S Cruz. Sorry to say but I don't believe in wonders or nonsense, I NEVER take part in any MLM | pyramid | chain letter schemes. Have "earned" lots of money in saving the vain postage costs ! Harazi Ahmed from Blida in Algeria asks for penpals, not even return postage enclosed. He has seen my worldwide club directory, the 1992 edition. Letter from Israel, Dinu Bratulescu sent US$ 2 for postage to receive names of penpal clubs in Portugal. He'll get them from the new WWCD. USA again, J P Laumeyer from Florida pays for Signal issue 87, it will be airmailed soon. I usually reply mail and stuff the envelopes with magazines 3-4 times monthly, 100-150 at a time...
La Casa from USA sends one inch display ad for his "Honduras Women" penpal service. You'll see it also in the web later. Paid order. Two IRCs from Japan, sent by 17 years old Nozomi Matsuura. She'll get Signal 82 and her listing in the next issue. Post & Telekom from Austria mails information about new postage stamps for publication. I use the photos occasionally as space permits. Two Indian Rupees, 5000 Romanian Leis, $ 1.25 in Canadian coins, 30 used postage stamps are received from Iulia Gavrilescu in Romania. She is 24 and looking for a man... 'Send $ 5 for reply and sexy photos'. Brien Duarte from Honolulu in Hawaii USA sends $ 6 for his ad and a back Signal.
Letter from FINLAND ! Unbelievable, 99 % of mail mail comes from abroad... Pertti Karppinen orders the latest Signal, I must remember to enclose the invoice. Our old agent C Kennedy sends her one incher for displaying in the printed Signal and in the web, $ 20 enclosed in cash as payment. Mail Order Plus is the magazine sold. Then a letter from down under, Australia, postage AU$ 1.20, two nice stamps. Paid order for the Worldwide Club Directory, Signal 87 - in web you can read newer edition free !
Houssenaly Karim from France is interested in trading consumer goods, world trade developments. He is buying a sample copy of the Signal. 25 years old Mandana H from Tehran in Iran asks for foreign penpals, no payment, no return postage.
Andre Rheaume from Canada is paying US$ 5 in Canadian Postal Money Order for the Signal and his ad. Finnish banks charge US$ 14 to cash this foreign $ 5 check. Do NOT send any small amounts of money abroad in checks or postal money orders, banks' service charges are more than the value of your payment. Send banknotes or IRCs...
Hiromi Kuwahara from Kanagawa in Japan buys the latest Signal, $ 7 enclosed. Kharisma Fans penpal paper from Indonesia contains 36 pages, photocopied but neat, mainly in Indonesian, Signal's 2" ad on the back cover. We swap ad space. Our agent Karael Enterprises in England orders the latest Signal for their customer Gisele Poissant in England, I'll drop-ship it soon. The payment was enclosed.
Ten IRCs from Morocco, sender Doir Ait Boussaaden, a penpal magazine order. Swedish firm called M & B Import sent their catalog of Bitte Collection, handbags, shopping bags, purses, umbellas, leathercases etc. Two International Reply Coupons from Japan again for a back issue of the Signal, from Naoko Kawauchi, age 14, girl. William A Snover from Michigan, USA ask for more information - no return postage.
Andera Angela from Kenya has seen Signal 63 - it was issued in 1986 - and sends her penpal listing for publication, without payment ! She is 20, 5'5", beautiful... Photocopied letter from the rich Saudi-Arabia, from M Salem. He asks for more information and says to be willing to pay, too. Mushtaq Ahmad Zuberi - a Pakistani by birth ? - lives now in USA and is willing to advertise in several penpal magazines. The payment missing again...
Well, that's it, thirty letters, a few payments, some ads, information and offers. Most ads will be composed, printed, added to these Signal's pages also in the Internet. Return postages nowadays some $ 1 per letter, that makes $ 30 for this lot.
Signal's editorial office and publisher's home.
MULTICOLOR TABLOID SIGNALS
Issues 1/2004 and 2/2004 were printed on newspaper web offset
presses, 10.000 copies, 4 pages, 300-400 penpals in both issues.
Signal-issues 3/2004 and 4/2004 were digitally duplicated,
A3-size adsheets, two pages and 150 penpal listings in each.
This article was issued
in August 1962 in the
mail order paper
Raimo Kaarna Publishes the Only Mail Order Paper In Finland...
And Sends It Around The World
The only mail order magazine in Finland is published by a 19-year-old schoolboy named Raimo Kaarna.
But what makes Raimo's paper even more unusual is the fact that he prints it in English --
a strange language for him -- and circulates it throughout the world.
His paper is called "Signal" and he explains the origin of the name this way:
"The name Signal we found out in the dictionary book just be chance."
In the publishing business, you have to take a lot of chances, so perhaps this method of choosing a title is as sood as any other.
One of the first problems to confront the new publication was, as Raimo puts it, the fact that
"we have not mail order business in Finland. I mean mail order in the same aspect as it appears
there in USA: circular mailing, big mails, commission circulars, name lists, moneymaking folios, advertising papers devoted to M.O., etc. Mail Order is
just unknown business here."
So the young publisher propably was making a smart move when he decided, along with his friends, to print
the paper in English rather than Finnish.
Finnish is an easy language if you happen to be a Finn, but it is unlike almost any other language
on the face of earth, except possibly Estonian.
"Signal was founded in January 1960, by me and one of my schoolfriends," says Raimo. "We wrote to some
foreign publishers and asked some advice how to establish an advertising sheet of hobbyists.
They sent us about 20 names and addresses of young people
from different countries. We added our own names and hobbies to the list and took it to be duplicated.
The 1.000 copies of Signal's first issue we sent to mailers in many countries for distributing."
The publishers announced that they would accept, in exchange for advertising space, such items as used stamps,
matchbox labels, viewcards, magazines, books, etc., and the ads started coming.
"Soon we had to issue Number 2," Raimo recalls. "It had ads on both sides (mimeographed like number 1,
1,000 9x12 copies). Because my name was mentioned as publisher,
I began to receive big mails and sample copies of other hobby publications. From them, we got new ideas for our own adsheet.
"We took one co-partner more and issued Number 3 as soon as we got enough ads for it. At that time I noticed that money
was lacking of me and sold my share to the shareholders.
They issued number 4 together but numbers 5 and 6 were issued by one of them only. Number 5 was the first issue that could be co-published.
"I bought Signal back to me in summer 1961 and have issued it myself (with some co-publisher) since number 7.".
With the publication of the seventh Signal, the paper assumed its present size and shape.
"I enlarged both the circulation, size and amount of ads," Raimo says. More important, it has been regularly printed.
The Signal still exchanges ad space with other publishers, which helps publicize the paper but does not pay the printing bill.
To solve this financial problem Raimo says:
"I have got money for the Signal in many different ways. Last summer I had a job and earned money. In autumn I sold my phonograph
records and book shelves and this winter I sold nearly all my stamps in order to get Signal printed."
But with youthful optimism he adds:
"I hope the next issue will be paid by advertisers and co-publishers."
Signal is published by Raimo Kaarna at Purokatu 18, Lahti, Finland. Lahti is a city of 70,000 population which, Raimo notes with pride, was the scene of world champion skiing and jumping rivalry in 1958.
"We have here 7 cinemas, one theatre, some 10 secondary schools and about 20 elementary schools and some other schools.
"As you know, Finland is the country of 60,000 lakes. I go at a secondary school and have one year left if I succeed in this term. After that I had to continue studying
in one of the universities or high schools in Finland or abroad. Because I would like to know English perfectly, I'll try to go to England or perhaps USA and stay some years there."
Raimo's mail order hobby brings him a few problems. "I have also the same interests as any youngster in the world has," he says. "I like dancing and movies and have a girlfriend, too.
Often I play records, most I like jazz and hits. I told mail order to be my main hobby besides my
girlfriend and school.
It is unusual for a young man like me in Finland to be publishing a mail order
paper printed in English and circulated in USA and all over the world.
Also most of my friends cannot help wondering this hobby of mine.
"I must recognize that mail order is just an odd hobby in Finland. I have sometimes heard about some Finnish stamp and correspondence clubs which issue their
membershiplists in English or German and distribute them among the members in Finland and abroad. But I have not seen any."
Raimo's kind of mail order operation is totally unknown to Finland. However, certain types of business do sell by mail in that country,
but his mail trade is mainly in merchandise.
He is now trying to make Signal more interesting. "Especially I want to have export/import, mail order, circular mailing, big mails, pen pals, namelists, stamp exchange, sales, etc. ads
to Signal. But naturally I cannot accept those ads boosting art, nude, nudist, etc., items. I think pornography to be
illegal in most countries and want to keep the international rules."
He has stopped taking stamps in payment for ads, and now requests cash or International Reply Coupons. "This," he notes, "is caused by the high printing payment."
His printer is located in Lahti but Raimo admits: "I've often been dreaming of my own printing press where I issue my own international advertising magazines:
one for real exporters and importers, one for mail order dealers, one for stamp dealers and stamp collectors, one for correspondence and hobbyists, etc.
Then I would establish some advertising mediums printed in Finnish and distributed in Finland. That is a great dream but I hope it isn't too great".
Raimo currently gets three cents a word for classified ads and $2 an inch for display ads under 50 words.
His other rates include big mail listings at 30 cents, pen pal listings including name, address, age, interests, occupation and languages for
50 cents, and a Stamp Exchange listing for 50 cents.
He will send a sample copy of Signal and co-publishing details for a dime or one IRC which can be obtained at any post office.
For a dollar, he'll send Signal all year, and throws in some side benefits such as a 25-word ad free and four "big mails" from Finland.
Raimo hasn't much time for correspondence, but he gets 60 to 80 letters a month, from people all over the world. He has one penfriend in U.S. who has sent
some 140 phonograph records in exchange for stamps. "I will never give up from him if possible." says Raimo, who knows a good deal when he sees one.
To this young Finnish publisher TABLOID AMERICAN says "Good Luck."
Maybe one day he will own that printing plant, and all those publishing dreams will come true.