Taking the Long View

One of the greatest privileges of doing the work of Friends Journal is to receive more than 400 manuscripts volunteered annually in which Friends express their deeply felt convictions and share their experiences and insights. Since 1999, we’ve been publishing about a third of these submissions each year. It is humbling to be entrusted with publication of "Quaker Thought and Life Today," with all of the complexity and variety that entails. We strive to make every issue incorporate features that are timeless, challenging, affirming, and sometimes quite compelling. We also look for ways to enable individual issues to become resources that can be shared and used for discussion on a myriad of topics. Friends place great importance on written communication—and their deep desire to maintain a community of kindred spirits through that communication.

In our spring funding appeal I wrote, "Do Quaker values have any importance today? I believe very strongly that they do, and I think it very likely that you agree. We can be quite specific about this question: Is there a need for greater truthfulness in the public domain? Should compassion play a stronger role in formulating social policy? Could a firm commitment to peace-building help make our world a safer place? Are there things that you and I, individually, can do to improve the tone in our public discourse, our national policies, and in our own communities and personal relationships? Does Spirit have a role to play in all of this?" These questions are not rhetorical. As I said in that letter, "Shall we continue this good work? You get to decide. You decide when you read our pages. You decide when you submit an article. You decide when you tell someone else about this publication or give it to them as a gift." You also decide when you pay for and maintain your own subscription to this publication.

These are hard times for independent publishers—those that do not receive a significant subsidy from a source outside of their work. Friends Journal has from its creation in 1955 been an independent publisher. In 1955 the Journal published a total of 436 pages at a subscription rate of $.01 per page. When adjusted for inflation, that would be $.07 per page in 2006 dollars. In 2005 the Journal published a total of 680 pages (56 percent more text) at a subscription rate of $.05 per page. In other words, the cost to our subscribers per page of Quaker Thought and Life Today has actually dropped by 29 percent, even though we are providing more content—and maintaining a website as well! With these reflections and facts to consider, I must now share with you that we find it necessary to raise our rates, effective July 1, 2006, to $39 for a one-year subscription and $76 for a two-year subscription. I know that many readers will feel that this rate is a very high one. But such matters are relative—we all know how much more we’re paying for healthcare, food, and gasoline these days. For the sake of comparison, if we publish the same number of pages as last year, our new subscription rate will be $.06 per page, still a 14 percent savings over the 1955 rate! Please do not misunderstand—our budget at present is in the black, but it is increasingly difficult to keep it there. We do not want to reduce our service to Friends, nor to deny more worthy writers publication than is now the case. But we also must balance our budget.

The Journal is an increasingly rare voice for peace and social justice in ominous times. Its pages are challenging and inspiring. We need your participation to keep it this way. I trust Friends will agree that the investment is worth it.