Keeping Shop

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For the first time in its twenty-eight-year history, A MERICAN H ERITAGE has opened its pages to advertising. We thus join such publications as National Geographic, Smithsonian , and Scientific American —as well as the overwhelming majority of all American publications—in making a business decision that fortifies our future and takes the burden of increasing costs off the necks of our readers. It is amazing that A MERICAN H ERITAGE was able to hold out for so long, but there is a limit to the price a publisher can charge a subscriber for a magazine, especially one like this, which is physically luxurious and which depends for its existence on writers, illustrators, and photographers of the highest level of excellence.

We have not only made advertisers welcome (within strict limits that will be of the least possible inconvenience to our readers), we have discovered that advertisers are happy to be made welcome here because of the nature of the audience that has been attracted to A MERICAN H ERITAGE over the years. You may or may not be surprised to discover that according to our surveys you are an affluent, highly educated, highly literate group. And you know what you like: 74 percent of the readers of the magazine renew their subscriptions—a rate of renewal that is exceptional by the standards of the industry. Even more encouraging, while most periodicals are read and tossed into the wastebasket after a few days or weeks, a whopping 80 percent of our readers say that they never dispose of their issues but keep them as an ever-growing archive of American history. Little wonder that we get complaints from time to time from readers who are running out of space.

All of this is good news in our shop because the editors have been as worried as you are about the increasing costs of labor and materials. With the additional revenue from corporate and retail advertising, we can maintain the quality of a publication that both its editors and readers believe in. We can also look forward to plans for long-range projects that have been too expensive in the past. At the very least we now know that this magazine can continue to give meaning to American history for those who are living it.

Meanwhile, we would like to draw your particular attention to the article on genealogy by Contributing Editor Peter Andrews in this issue. It looked like an easy assignment at first—genealogy as a trend is hardly a subject that has been ignored in the popular press. But we wanted something different: a history of the phenomenon in this nation. Unbelievably, such an approach has never been taken before, and Andrews had his work cut out for him. The hard-earned historical insight he has come up with is a tribute to his research.