This is the first issue of Dissent published by the University of Pennsylvania Press. Penn Press will be taking over the entire business end of the magazine—production, circulation, subscription fulfillment, advertising, permissions, and promotion. The new cover by the Penn Press designer, John Hubbard, based on the original 1954 design, marks the transition. We retain complete editorial control of Dissent; there will be no change in the political direction of the magazine.
This is our 55th anniversary, and for all those years, we have been self-published. Dissent, one of the early editors said, was run like a family grocery store. In the age of the internet, we are no longer able to sustain that kind of independence. Like many other magazines, we face rising costs and declining revenues. Penn Press has come forward with a plan (it is a five year plan, but we won’t call it that) to make the magazine solvent, even to earn a little money. We are grateful for their enthusiasm for our project—which is obviously not a standard university press project.
The biggest change in our operations will come on our website. Since Penn Press hopes to increase the number of print subscriptions, we will no longer be able to post all of our print articles on the Web.Our current issue will be available in full for the next month. It isn’t possible to sustain a magazine that is essentially free—even the left must pay its way. We will post two articles, the table of contents, and the first paragraphs of the other articles. The whole issue and all the articles individually will, of course, be available to current and future subscribers—so every subscription will also be an e-sub. Tell your friends that the new way to get Dissent is the original way: they need to buy a subscription! They can also check out our Web site, which will be open and lively even without pieces from the print magazine. We will be posting short comments on political issues, timely essays that can’t wait for a quarterly publication, and occasional interviews in the new UpFront section.
Though the Penn Press connection will stop the financial bleeding, we will still need to raise money, quite a lot of money, to support our editorial operations. In the Spring issue, you will find the announcement of our 2009 fund drive. Please start thinking now about how you can help us. In these hard financial times, raising money won’t be easy, and we will need the help of all our friends.
But the hard times are also a new reason to support Dissent. We are a magazine committed to the idea that the free market will never serve the interests of ordinary men and women unless it is closely regulated by the democratic state—and we have never been more necessary, our voice has never been more central, to this country’s political debates than it is right now.
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