Where Next?

By John Halford

When I began to work with magazines over 40 years ago, I was a small part of an operation that involved dozens of separate steps and hundreds of people.

Articles were typed on manual typewriters. After proofing, they were typeset on a “linotype” machine — a clattering contraption the size of a refrigerator, with a large keyboard. The operator sat in front of it. Beside him was a pot of molten lead, from which whole lines of type were cast as he typed. It was an advance over manually setting individual letters, but even so, it was noisy, hot and cumbersome.

Computers and desktop publishing have changed all that. Today, from my small office in rural Indiana, I can do what once needed an entire department. I still use the keyboard, but a mug of hot coffee has replaced the pot of hot lead.

“He has the right to criticize who has the heart to help.” Abraham Lincoln

Two things have not changed, however — and I’d like to discuss them with you.

We want Christian Odyssey to reflect the bright new “face” that God has given our church since he showed us the way out of legalism. We would like to increase Christian Odyssey’s circulation. There are many spiritually hungry people “out there” who need to know what we have learned — the truth of the gospel of grace.

So what are those two things have not changed about magazine publishing? First, we need a steady supply of good articles. No matter how colorful a magazine is, how bright the pictures, or how good the quality of the paper, if it is not a “good read” it won’t do the job. Here is where I need your help.

If you were the editor of Christian Odyssey, what would you do to make it even more relevant to your reader’s lives? Give us feedback. Tell us what you like. And if you think there are ways we can improve, please let us know that too. Abraham Lincoln once said, “He has the right to criticize who has the heart to help.”

The other thing that has not changed is the basic process of printing. Of course, there have been advances in that industry too, and our press in Ohio is a far cry from the grubby, noisy caverns that printing plants used to be. It is bright and airy. Computerized machinery hums and whirrs obediently. You could “eat your dinner off the floor.” But the basic process is the same — images are transferred from printing plates onto sheets of paper as they pass through a machine. That takes time and money.

How much time and money? Well, the most expensive copy of Christian Odyssey is the first one off the press. All the processes from writing the articles to plate-making have gone into making that first copy possible. And even if that was the only copy, we would still have had to go through the entire process.

The next copy is much cheaper, because all the preparation has been done. In fact, we could go on and produce ten thousand or even ten million, without any increase in the editorial expense. But of course, we must pay for the additional paper, production time required and also the cost of mailing. There is also the cost of advertising to attract new readers.

Our current circulation costs are just about covered from our denominational budget. But that budget is stretched to the limit. So if we are to significantly increase our circulation, we need your help.

Not counting the cost for advertising, it costs about seven dollars to add a new reader to the list and cover the subscription costs for one year. Will you help us keep those presses running?

copyright 2007

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