Dear Friends

  • Paid circulation by year

    Chart by Diane Sylvain
  • Dustin Solberg photo

30 for $30

In 1992, High Country News raised the price of a personal subscription from $24 a year to $28. Since then, we have held the price line. Now we find ourselves in the position of the rancher who was losing $50 on every calf he sold. He decided to lick his problem by raising more calves.

Like the rancher, we too hope to increase production, but the HCN board and staff have decided that we also need to raise the cost of a subscription, from $28/year to $32/year. A business subscription (one paid for by a business check) will go from $38 to $42/year.

But before the price rises, subscribers - whether current or former - will be given a chance to renew or to give gift subscriptions at a price even lower than the present rate. Personal renewals and new subscriptions through Sept. 1 will cost $30 for 30 issues, in celebration of HCN's coming 30th anniversary. That works out to $1/issue, compared to the $1.25/issue of HCN's standard $28 subscription for 24 issues. You should shortly receive a formal offer in the mail. But you can also renew or send gifts by calling 800/905-1155.

Other publications have trained their subscribers to let subscriptions lapse and then await the last, best, really best deal. But High Country News is a one-price shop. And when we have a "sale," such as 30 for $30, it is available to everyone.

20,000 subscribers by Y2K

Despite such a crazy policy, High Country News is doing OK. In 1983, when there were 3,300 subscribers, the current staff told the board of directors that the paper might some day have 5,000 subscribers, but that would be it. Once we hit 5,000, we told the board that it was unlikely that the paper would ever reach 10,000. In 1992, when the paper exceeded 11,000, we shut up.

Today, High Country News is within a few hundred subscriptions of the gravity-defying number of 20,000. Two years ago, the gloomier among us felt vindicated; circulation had dropped back toward 18,000 after coming close to 19,000. Both renewal rates and responses to direct mail had declined.

But now, for whatever perverse reason, people are responding to a greater percentage of the direct-mail letters we send, and the renewal rate has rebounded from 66 percent to 69 percent.

On the one hand, 20,000 subscribers is no more significant a number than the year 2000. But 20,000 by 2000 has a nice ring to it. If you know someone who should be reading High Country News, or if you are not a subscriber yourself, please call or send us $30 and we will send out 30 issues, one at a time.

We only worry that we'll hit 20,000 subscribers on Dec. 31, 1999, and then, minutes later, lose all the names in a gigantic Y2K meltdown.

This and that

Many publications give away premiums to new subscribers. But new subscriber Bill Baird of Fruita, Colo., turned the tables by sending us a book by his son, Brian Baird, titled Are we having fun yet? The theme is intriguing: that outdoor activities can destroy relationships. If you drag your young children on a 10-mile hike, they may never hike again. If you and your fiancee have very different ideas of what a "climb" means, you both may end up back in the singles pool. The $12.95 book is published by The Mountaineers Books, 1001 SW Klickitat Way, Seattle, WA 98134; 206/223-6303.

Independent radio producer Barbara Bernstein of Portland, Ore., came through, as part of her tour of the Interior West. She is doing 35 interviews for a two-hour documentary, tentatively called "The Malling of the West."

Welcome, Tim

Getting hold of Tim Westby to tell him he had been accepted as an intern at High Country News was no easy task. Greg Hanscom filled Tim's message machine for a solid week in a vain attempt to tell him the news. Turns out Tim was on his honeymoon.

Tim and Leslie eloped to Moab, Utah, in March and then spent a week canoeing the Green River while Greg became good friends with their answering machine.

Tim is the latest in a long line of interns to come from Missoula, Mont. He has lived there for the last three years while working on a master's degree in journalism at the University of Montana. He was a reporter for the Missoula Independent covering mainly local government and, for most of the last year, had a "rather odd job" with the Forest Service. Reading and coding comment letters and then writing reports detailing what the public had to say was often tedious and mind-numbing, he says, but gave him insight into how the public perceives environmental issues.

Tim drove to Paonia in his Forest Service surplus truck with his canoe strapped on top. He's glad to be done with government work and back in the world of journalism. But he misses his wife.

* Ed Marston for the staff

High Country News Classifieds