August/September 1980 | Volume 31, Issue 5
Rarely do I address the AMERICAN HERITAGE audience directly—that’s the editor’s job—but a lot of mail has come my way lately, and I want to take this opportunity to reply. This mail, of course, was generated by our difficult decision to switch from our traditional hard covers to flexible covers. The continuing rise in printing and paper costs and postal rates forced us to face some hard choices: we could reduce the quality of the magazine itself by using cheaper paper stock; we could publish fewer articles by notable contributors and fewer illustrations; we could increase drastically the subscription price; we could do away with the hard covers.
No magazine is wiser than its readership, and so we decided to share that choice with you. Some months ago we sent out a survey to a scientifically selected sampling of readers. This had a twofold purpose: along with testing your feelings about the shift to flexible covers versus greatly increased price, it would let us know better what sort of people read A MERICAN H ERITAGE .
The results were most interesting. For instance, four out of five of you attended college, and almost half went on to graduate school; three-quarters are married, and you live almost everywhere in the country. We were, of course, extremely gratified to learn how much most of you enjoyed the contents as they are now constituted, and that your idea of the proper mix of subjects—i.e., biography, eyewitness accounts, military history, historical perspective on current events, and all the rest—is so close to that of the editors. Most heartening of all was the evidence that the overwhelming majority of our readers understood the problems we were facing and were willing to stay with us as we went to flexible covers.
Still, there were those among you (about a thousand wrote to me) who were truly distressed by our decision. Give us a more permanent edition, they asked, and we’ll be willing to pay substantially more. We listened, and decided to test the notion of a new and elegantly bound collector’s edition. A few months ago every subscriber received a letter asking whether he or she would be willing to pay the extra premium that such an undertaking would command. Happily, we have received enough orders to make the collector’s edition economically feasible, and we are going ahead with it.
All this information indicates that you share the enthusiasm I feel for our magazine. If I sound proud, it’s because I am. I firmly believe we publish the finest magazine in its field, and one of the best in the country today. That others share my sentiments is confirmed not only by the many awards we have won over the years, but also by the fact that subscriptions are steadily rising. This is particularly vital to A MERICAN H ERITAGE since, as you know, we take no advertising. Only you, our subscribers, keep us alive.
Hence, I am especially grateful to you for bearing with us through the past year, and hope that you may take the time to read the order form bound into this issue. Perhaps someone will come to mind who shares your interest in our nation’s heritage, and who might enjoy receiving your gift subscription.
You alone can help us to continue to produce the publication that New York Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan recently described as “an American treasure. It enriches the present every bit as much as it enlarges and enlivens understanding of our past. I challenge anyone to read six issues—by God, a single issue!—to see if you don’t find yourself thinking just a little bit differently, and a little more, about America. And all this without a trace of ideological or partisan purpose.”