Upward and (Hopefully) Onward

Editor's Note from 1974: As you can read in the following "As We See It," the last issue of Vol.1 No.12 (cover dated "Spring 1966") was perhaps not as "strong" as it might have been. If we had been doing things according to Proper Business Practice, we should have held back our best articles and our gutsiest reports until that issue, as a high-powered incentive for our subscribers to renew their subs. We didn't. There were better articles and a greater variety of topics covered in earlier issues, but Issue 12 was significant in that it set the pattern of topic emphasis, and the balance of reports versus other editorial material, that was to continue more or less unchanged for the next 7 years.

Many things like our publishing schedule and our financial situation were to become "much worse before they got better" (footnote 1), but at the time of this writing, early in 1974, our condition is rather aptly described by the title of the editorial in Issue 12. That proved to be more optimistic than accurate, but we said it eight years ago, and we're a little less naive now. We've learned a lot since then (If you asked us, we could write a book!) and we've had a lot of fun, too. And judging by the mail that crosses our desks, so have our readers.—J. Gordon Holt

As we say on those little notes scrawled on Christmas cards, much has happened since last you heard from us. Among other things, we have changed printers, mainly because the previous one was not giving us as speedy service as we needed. And we have reached an earth-shaking decision: we're going to have to raise our subscription rates.

This is the last issue due subscribers whose address labels are coded 1–12 or are not coded at all. We mentioned this in Issue 11, and while we sincerely thank those people who've already renewed, we're sorry to have to report that the renewal rate has not as yet been terribly good. We hope it will improve, now that Issue 12 has arrived, but in view of our present renewal rate and all the letters saying "If you take ads, I quit!" we have no choice but to raise the rate to $4 a year, which amounts to $1 per issue!

This may seem outrageously steep until we note that a magazine like High Fidelity collects something like $1000 for one page of advertising in one issue. At that rate, we could afford to sell Stereophile for 10 cents a copy, but we would also have to adopt a commercial magazine's policy of catering to advertisers. And the fact that we don't, now, is the thing that makes The Stereophile unique, and of unique value to the equipment buyer.

We are not, however, going to spring this on you without warning; the price increase won't go into effect until June 1. Despite what it says on our coupon on page 18, anyone whose subscription or renewal reaches us before then will get the old 12-issue $8 rate. Orders received after that time, even if accompanied by old coupons that say "$8," will be subject to the increased rate.

The change in printers and the upped rates are expected to do at least two things. First, the transition period (during which we transfer our original mailing list to new plates) is going to cause some confusion, mainly in the form of duplicate copies reaching some of you. We would appreciate your returning the duplicates to us, but we can't insist on it because we aren't going to comb our files just to find out who got what.

On the other side of the coin is the fact that, unless too many readers become discouraged by the higher rate, the additional income will allow us to hire adequate help, with the happy result that future issues will be out on time-thus doing away with the most common complaint about The Stereophile. We may even be able to get onto a bimonthly publishing schedule, which would allow us to cover much more ground in the equipment reports section.

Meanwhile, and at the obvious risk of gypping ourselves out of some much-needed income, we urge you to renew or subscribe now, before the price hike comes into effect, even though you may not be up for renewal in the near future.

We hope you'll forgive us for airing our dirty laundry in public, but a magazine whose readers are more like investors than statistics on an advertising rate card has an obligation to be open and aboveboard about its "sordid business" aspects. Better this, we feel, than having sordid business considerations influencing our editorial approach.

Foot-In-Mouth Syndrome (from Vol.2 No.1)
Shortly after Issue 12 came out, a couple of readers wrote to ask us if there was, perchance, any particular reason why we chose to single out High Fidelity magazine in our editorial as an example of ones that "cater to their advertisers." We were a bit taken aback by the question, but just in case anyone else got the same impression from our editorial, we shall elucidate.

We mentioned High Fidelity, not as an example of commercial skulduggery, but to illustrate the kind of income that a successful hi-fi publication derives from advertisements. High Fidelity was "singled out" only because, having worked there for several years, we felt we had some idea of their ad rates.

Later in the editorial, when we mentioned the "sordid business considerations" that dilute the idealism of commercial publications, we were not pointing the bony finger at High Fidelity; we were simply stating what appears to be a fact of life for every advertiser-supported publication. The advertisers know how much they contribute to the publication's existence, and some of them use this fact as a club over the head of the publisher, to try to ensure their immunity from criticism of any kind.—J. Gordon Holt

Footnote 1: Despite the 1966 rise in price to $1/copy, J. Gordon Holt's inability to continue publishing Stereophile without advertising support continued. As a result, in October 1972 he announced that the magazine would accept dealer ads, followed in the Winter 1975/1976 issue by manufacturer ads. But the publishing tardiness still didn't let up, as Gordon explained in August 1976, April 1979, and December 1981.—John Atkinson