ou may think magazine distribution is a simple process and, in theory, it is. You print the magazine, send it to the distribution company, they get it to the shops and, hey presto, someone buys it and everyone's happy.
If only the reality was that straightforward. In the current retail climate, it is proving very difficult for independent Scottish publishers to stake a claim to a space on a shop shelf
Why? Simple: some of the big retail multiples do not think of Scotland as a country but, instead, as a region.
As a result, most retailers' shelves are dominated by major London-based publishers, who are able to supply all the stores in the UK and have the big budgets required to support and increase sales.
This, obviously, poses a number of problems for Scottish-based publishers as, not only is growth within the industry stifled, employment is also impacted. More importantly, so is our social Scottish message.
But answer me this: why should Scottish magazine readers be restricted to a selection of titles that have nothing particularly Scottish about them? As they have little choice, customers in Scotland are more likely to pick up a magazine that is English or American and which has little or no elevance to our country.
Take sport, for example. Scotland's leading fishing title struggles to get a place on the shelves, but the English version doesn't - and, ironically, it promotes a style of fishing that cannot even be practised in Scotland!
The same can be said for other sports, including football, shooting and golf. Indeed, in the case of the latter, our First Minister, Alex Salmond, was promoting golf in Scotland recently, and he drew attention to how it could generate an additional £15m for the local economy
(on top of the £300m it already raises) in this, the officially designated year of Homecoming.
Great. But is Mr Salmond aware that our shops are full of England-based golf magazines, which champion courses south of the border and encourage golfers to travel to exotic destinations near and far but very seldom Scotland, whilst the only true Scottish golf magazine, which highlights all of our wonderful courses and helps promote tourism within Scotland, struggles for shelf-space? If Mr Salmond could look at redressing this balance, perhaps his £15m estimation could be bolstered.
But it's not just golf and fishing that are struggling to compete. The same goes for every other Scottish publication out there right now. No matter whether they produce lifestyle, sport, music or entertainment titles, every Scottish publisher is fighting the
Magazine publishing in Scotland is something we should all be proud of. However, as you can see, the issue of distribution is not quite so straightforward and many great, independent Scottish publishers are finding it extremely difficult to flourish. Indeed, the phrase "one hand tied behind your back" immediately springs to mind. But when it starts affecting jobs, tourism and ultimately our economy, especially in today's fragile business climate, it becomes a political problem. And that means it needs political intervention, sooner rather than later.