The Handbook (formerly The Harton Handbook) is a free community magazine and business directory delivered monthly* to homes in Harton and surrounding areas of South Shields, Cleadon and East Boldon. It is also available from a range of outlets including local businesses, libraries, restaurants, coffee bars, Health Centres and dentists’ surgeries. (*10 editions a year with combined December/ January and July/August issues).
Each edition of the magazine provides readers with a comprehensive list of local businesses, special features, regular articles and puzzles, and it offers community news to inform residents about events in the area.
The first edition – August 2005 – was black and white, 24 pages long and featured a handful of advertisers and only limited articles. Today, the magazine is printed in full colour and regularly contains between 72-80 pages. And whilst our original distribution was 1200, our current distribution is 8500 and still growing.
We are Leon and Maureen Jones and we set up the business in summer 2005. Our aim is to provide a magazine that people both want and look forward to receiving. We publish a magazine that is interesting and useful to residents and which offers local businesses low cost advertising.
At the beginning we did everything ourselves, including delivery of the magazines. Although it was hard work, it was nevertheless great to meet the residents and it was obvious they liked the magazine as several people asked for extra copies for family or friends who lived out of the area. Today, the business has grown so much that it is unlikely we could manage the business and carry out the deliveries so thankfully our magazines are now delivered by a distribution company.
Work on the magazine is divided equally with Leon visiting customers and dealing with the accounts, and Maureen doing the artwork and layout of the magazine.
We regularly receive positive feedback from residents and businesses alike. Residents enjoy their own local magazine because of its excellent content and because they can find local businesses easily. Businesses like it because it gives them cost-effective, targeted, local advertising, with many commenting that their advert pays for itself each month.