Uncompromising But Not-Quite-Predictable
As the New Oxford Review approaches entry into its ninth year of publication, we are at times amazed to discover we are still here! We sometimes laugh at the fact that the NOR is a not-for-profit legal entity, for what we really are is a constant-deficit entity. A small, serious journal of ideas like the NOR always runs a deficit and must always search for ways to pay its bills, balance the books, and maintain financial integrity.
It costs us roughly $18 per year to service one subscriber. What this means, when you take a technical look at our balance sheet, is that when we sell a subscription for the regular full price of only $14, we are actually losing $4. (All the discount subscriptions we offer put us in the hole even more.) This is an odd way to “do business,” to be sure!
Since additional miscellaneous income doesn’t come close to bridging the gap, we are occasionally tempted to take drastic action. For example, the basic subscription price of $14 a year could be raised to $21. Since we offer discounts for Christmas and graduation gift subscriptions, multiple-year subscriptions, certain introductory subscriptions, and for subscriptions for students, the unemployed, and retired persons, a basic $21 subscription rate would probably be required to offset these various discounts. Then, theoretically, income would match expenses.
But there are some good reasons for not raising our rates so as to cover the high costs of producing a serious magazine. First, to increase rates would likely result in a drop in circulation (according to supply and demand, an increase in prices reduces demand), and since the lion’s share of our expenses are “constant costs” (i.e., cannot be reduced regardless of how few subscribers we have), we would consequently experience a drop in total income, and would still be in the hole. Maybe in a bigger hole.
Second, we would have to increase our subscription rate for students, the unemployed, and retired persons rather sharply (currently it is only $12). We know from countless letters and notes we receive that there are many people with limited incomes who dearly love the New Oxford Review, but who can barely manage to scrape together the $12. No one should want to impose greater hardships on people who are already hard pressed.
As for cutting expenses, we have already cut them to the bone. For example, our full-time employees work for substandard wages, our part-time workers (such as our book review editor, our manuscript editor, our staff artists, and our proofreaders) work for free, as do all of our columnists and writers.
Under these circumstances, we can do one of two things. We can raise our subscription rates across the board (with uncertain, and probably unjust and counterproductive, consequences) or we can appeal for donations on an emergency basis. The better (more business-like and more just) option is the latter one, because while many of our subscribers cannot (and some will not) pay more for a subscription, many other subscribers are able to give more. The only question is, will they?
While it is foolish to presume anything in these uncertain times, we are gambling that they will. Why? Not only because they have in the past but very simply because there is no other publication like the New Oxford Review. Literally.
I don’t think I need to enumerate the ways in which this is so: the NOR speaks for itself. But it is interesting to hear how others perceive us. For example, The New York Times Magazine recently printed a lengthy article on the renewal of interest in religion among intellectuals, in which the New Oxford Review and a couple of our writers were discussed at some length. Since the NOR confounds the usual, prefabricated ideological categories, while at the same time taking strong stands on issues of the day, I was curious to find how the Times would characterize us. The verdict? The New Oxford Review is…“curious.”
Curious, indeed! It is the NOR’s “curious” quality, its uncompromising but not-quite-predictable approach to questions of God and man, that accounts, I think, for its ability to fascinate inquisitive people.
So, if you feel moved — and are able — to help us achieve financial health, please send your check made out to New Oxford Review to 1069 Kains Ave., Berkeley, CA 94706. All donations are tax deductible. As we thank you for giving serious consideration to our situation, we remain confident that, as in the past, many of you will respond to our call.
©1984 New Oxford Review. All Rights Reserved.
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