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Saturday, April 21, 2007

Urgent: Postal rate hike will harm small magazines.

Stop the Rate HikeIn a surprising and evidently complicated turn of events, the Postal Board of Governors ditched the US Postal Service's own recommendations for a new periodicals rate — the postage paid to get a magazine to you — and instead adopted a proposal from the media giant Time Warner that may cripple America's small magazines.

Magazine publishers had been bracing for a proposed rate hike of 11.7 percent for more than a year, but when the new regulations were finally introduced at the beginning of April, publishers were shocked to learn the new rates will instead hit many magazines at rates of up to 20 percent and more. (No one really knows how much individual publishers will end up paying when the new rates go into effect July 15 because programmers are still scrambling to develop computer programs that can calculate the variables introduced by the new regulations. You can imagine that this has me on edge.) You can read a lot more about how the impact on the magazine industry as a whole here.

This is where things get troubling: The regulations Time Warner proposed and the Board of Governors adopted let magazines with the highest circulations — People, for example — enjoy significant savings that smaller magazines — like Image and The Nation — have no way to achieve. The new rates reward periodicals that travel the shortest distances in the mail (from regional distribution centers rather than from single printers) and that are mailed on pallets rather than in bags (which really means that a magazine that lots of your neighbors also get will pay a lower rate than a magazine that very few of your neighbors get). Weekly magazines will be hardest hit because they depend on prompt delivery; The Nation estimates that its postage costs may go up as much as $500,000 a year.

A coalition of unlikely partners has mobilized as quickly as they could to protest the new rates before the public comment period ends on Monday, April 23. (Yes, this did take people off guard.) Small-circulation public-interest magazines — from National Review and The Weekly Standard on the right to Mother Jones and The Nation on the left — have been joined by many others asking Congress to urge the Postal Service to implement fairer rates. UU World, which I edit, and the Unitarian Universalist Association, which publishes it, have signed on to the letter these publishers are submitting.

I urge you to add your voice, too.

For more information, please read the following:

Copyright © 2007 by Philocrites | Posted 21 April 2007 at 11:17 AM

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