All of us at the Los Angeles Review of Books felt great sadness last week at the news that The New Republic was falling apart. TNR had been losing $3 million a year, but had, people thought, been rescued by an internet billionaire. There isn’t a serious magazine editor out there who wouldn’t like an internet billionaire to drop like manna out of the sky — running an independent magazine in the age of digital media isn’t easy: the very internet that produced such billionaires has destroyed the traditional revenue model for magazines like ours.
That magazines like The New Republic, and Harpers, and LARB lose money is no secret. The Paris Review has an endowment and is funded in part by donations. Harper’s gets funded — to the tune of some $4.5 million a year — by a foundation. Literary magazines already needed non-commercial funding before the digital revolution hit, but things are more dire now that analog dollars have shrunk to digital dimes.
LARB now produces a greater quantity of serious work now than any of these venerable outlets, and we have managed to do it on a tiny fraction of their budgets. We’ve achieved this remarkable feat because of the volunteer labor of many, and because people have opened their wallets and opened their homes to hold fundraisers for us, written reviews and essays for nothing or next to nothing, done pro bono legal and technical work for us, and otherwise chipped in to build this remarkable home for cultural exchange.
Harpers was, in the 1890s, such a powerful cultural and commercial force that it almost single-handedly moved the center of literary production from Boston to New York. Now it needs a cash infusion of millions of dollars to survive. We want it to survive, and we want LARB to survive. There is currently no foundation underwriting LARB and no billionaire. We’ve pulled this off so far with the help of everyday readers like you.
We are halfway home in this, our largest fund drive to date — halfway to matching the $75,000 we stand to earn if we raise that same amount. If we make it, the $150,000, 1/30th of the Harpers figure, will keep us going into the new year.
We cannot do it without you. Unless, that is, between now and Dec. 31 an internet billionaire drops from the sky. But we’d much rather have 75,000 readers do it instead.
Please consider donating today. Help us prove that in the new digital age, all that is required for independent publishing to stay alive and well is a community of everyday readers determined to keep it that way.