by John Wilson, Managing Editor
Stranger in a Strange Land: New Year's Resolution
As we progress through our sophomore year of publication, we are learning more about our readers. Last month I heard from a couple who were among our charter subscribers. "We've hardly had a chance to read the last several issues," they said. That didn't sound good. I wondered what was coming next. Their daughter, it turns out, who recently completed her first year of college, has discovered B&C. "As soon as she spots an issue, she just I it. We never see it again." So they were getting another subscription--for themselves.
Many of you who read B&C regularly are equally passionate about it. You've told us so, in letters and conversations that have been enormously encouraging. That's the good news. Along with this wonderful feedback, however, has come a less happy fact. We are learning that you who choose to subscribe are a rare breed. About 15,000 of you have signed up, and that's a terrific start for a thought publication. But to become viable for the long term, we need to move much closer to the 25,000 mark.
We are convinced that those additional subscribers are out there waiting to discover B&C. Almost every week we hear from new readers who, despite our best efforts to publicize the magazine, had never known of its existence until just now, when a friend or colleague put a copy in their hands. We need to reach more of those potential readers. But we simply cannot afford to send avalanches of direct mail to the usual lists. We find B&C readers in small pockets--too small to bother with in conventional marketing terms. That's expensive.
And that's where you come in. It takes time to build a publication like B&C. It takes help from many sources. We have carefully used major foundation monies and CTi investment to build our current circulation. CTi will continue to invest, and we are seeking additional foundation support. But to maintain momentum, we need your help. We need people who share our vision to invest with us.
We are therefore asking you to make a New Year's resolution to add your support by becoming a B&C Sustaining Subscriber. We are seeking three levels of support: Friend ($100), Sponsor ($250), and Patron ($500). As a Sustaining Subscriber, you will be acknowledged by name in the pages of the magazine (unless you request otherwise); $24.95 of your money will go toward renewing your subscription, and the remainder will be your tax-deductible donation that will be used to firm up B&C's financial base and help us find those additional subscribers who just don't know what they're missing. Simply fill out the form below and mail it to us.
Part of my job is to read several magazines every day. Mostly these are the old-fashioned kind--you can hold them in your hands and flip the pages. Lately, though, I've also explored the online variety. They take some getting used to--I can digest half of a conventional magazine in the time it takes just to move from one article to another online--and so far only one site has drawn me back for repeated visits: the online magazine Salon ( http://www.salon1999.com ). I'm drawn there by the same qualities that keep me reading the New Yorker, Lingua Franca, and such: sharp reporting, lively opinions, funny writers with a strong personal voice. (Also, alas, as with its conventional counterparts, you'll find in Salon a measure of the foolish, the perverse, and the relentlessly hip.) To B&C readers who want to check out Salon, I particularly recommend Anne Lamott's online diary. Lamott is a writer (look for John Spalding's review of her book Bird by Bird in a forthcoming issue of B&C), a single mother, and a stubborn Christian in that modern-day Babylon known as San Francisco.
If you are a browser in the ether, you may already have accessed B&C via Christianity Online, the area of America Online where all of CTi's magazines are featured. Now we're also on the World Wide Web ( http://www.christianity.net/bc ). At our Web site you'll find a sample piece from the current issue of B&C as well as the full text of the previous issue. (Here AOL users enjoy a distinct advantage: they can access the full text of the current issue via Christianity Online.)
The greatest boon of the Net, of course, is e-mail, for which I give thanks every day. Many of you have written us ( firstname.lastname@example.org ). We'd like to hear from more of you. After all, what is a magazine if not a virtual community?
Copyright© 1997 by Christianity Today/Books & Culture Magazine.