ONE Institute Quarterly Report
by Jim Kepner
Presented to ONE, Inc. at the Jan. 30, 1959 Annual Business Meeting
The Corporation projected the publication of ONE INSTITUTE QUARTERLY of HOMOPHILE STUDIES on January 15, 1958, after long discussion by the Education Division and the Board of Directors, and first publicly announced it at the 1958 Annual Meeting.
The Corporation had long felt the urgent need for diversifying its publications in this field. A single magazine aimed at the entire American homophile audience (as well as a more general public) would inevitably find its tone too serious for some readers and too frivolous for others, no matter what level the editors settled on. Homophiles represent a social grouping with widely divergent tastes, interests, loyalties, and educational levels, so we have felt, with reluctance inspired by the awful scope of the task, that, like it or not, we must ultimately publish not one but several magazines, each carefully keyed to a specific segment of the homophile audience. It might be worth mention here that those who have analyzed the publishing business insist that a string of magazines is generally more secure financially. We had already, in “Topsy” fashion, grown into our second publication, ONE CONFIDENTIAL, distributed to Corporation members only.
The QUARTERLY, our third magazine, was conceived as the organ of ONE INSTITUTE, as a serious but readable journal to disseminate the results of the Institute’s studies in the homophile side of history, religion, law, literature and the sciences, and also to print or evaluate studies or researches by other scholars in the field. Such materials had already been found incompatible with the popular approach necessary in ONE Magazine. Our aim was a holistic, scholarly, but not pedantic, approach to homophile studies, looking for the day when this field of studies could take its place beside other respected areas of learning.
The editorial board was chosen, and certain regular features decided on. Problems of format, production and finance seemed inextricably bound together at the start. After a bit of hunting for an inexpensive printer, we settled on the company which prints ONE, and got a sobering base price of $346 for 500 copies of a self-cover, 32-page magazine slightly wider and taller than ONE. This was steeper than we had expected, but the format looked good, and pegging the sale price at $1 per copy, we took the plunge. We didn’t expect the QUARTERLY to be self- supporting for some time.
Dawn Frederic of ONE’s art department became art editor. Her excellent designs converted us to the use of a wrap-around cover, of heavier, colored paper, adding four pages and considerable expense. Due to the rigid format, we have given her little more than routine work since the first issue. We hope to be able to remedy this.
It took weeks to stabilize the format and more time to collect and edit suitable material for the first issue. The mere fact an article was too long-winded or too technical for inclusion in ONE was not enough to justify publishing it in the QUARTERLY. We had to work our way into new and stricter editorial standards, and to our printer’s great distress, we only came fully to grips with this after the first issue was largely set up in type, so that much editorial work that should have been done earlier was done at the proofreading stage. The printer boosted his price a bit after the first issue.
The first, Spring 1958, issue arrived in the office on June 6th.
We printed 100 extra copies of the first QUARTERLY, raising the total cost (which included several re-usable engravings) to near that of an issue of ONE. Counting 15¢ apiece for mailing, but excluding office and promotional costs, this ran to 93¢ per copy — and sold to subscribers for 87 1/2¢. The second issue, at 500 copies, cost 96¢ each, and the third at 600, cost 84¢. The extra copies of the latter were purchased by a contributor to be sent to University libraries.
Most copies of the first two issues have been distributed (including many single orders, free copies and consignments). We now have approximately 300 subscribers. Fifty copies are being placed in six newsstands and bookstores. Three promotional mailers have been circulated, though we feel our promotion hasn’t yet hit those places where it would be most likely effective.
Financially, the QUARTERLY is well short of the break-even point. At present costs it would take about 760 subscribers to pay printing and mailing costs for that many copies. It would take perhaps 1,250 (more than we now have for ONE Magazine) to also cover estimated supplimental [sic] costs, such as office and accounting expenses, promotion and editorial expenses,
but that figure is at this stage highly conjectural. In lots of 100, extra copies cost only 21 1/2¢ each to print. Thus, the first 500 copies print for almost $500, while 1,500 would cost only $700 to print, bringing the average mailing and printing costs down to 43¢ per unit, less than half the present cost.
Since our average income per copy is actually somewhat less than the 87 1/2¢ paid by subscribers, we may have to consider an even higher estimated goal for breaking even.
We have discussed prices with another printer, and may be able to get a fatter and somewhat less espensive [sic] QUARTERLY in exchange for the present handsome appearance — but we’re not sure. We have discovered that some printers can’t deliver as cheaply as they promise. We have also considered raising the selling price, but we’re not anxious for this either.
The Corporation has sufficient reason to publish the QUARTERLY even if it doesn’t break even, but how much deficit can we carry, and how is it to be made up? We hope to push circulation up to meet the costs. Experience only will tell if this is a realistic goal.
As was originally true of ONE, the QUARTERLY enters an empty field, and must expect a shortage of ready-trained writers with scholarly backing in these areas of study. It will take years to develop competent scholars and writers to produce the sort of well-written, objective, properly documented and clearly presented historical and critical studies, reviews, and scientific researches that we want to print, but only by going ahead now can we help to develop such writers and scholars. We may expect continued difficulty at finding valuable material, reasonably well-written, that can be fitted into a properly balanced publication.
Our hopes that the QUARTERLY would free us to print some of the very long manuscripts we have long had to reject, have been seriously cramped by having fewer pages than we had hoped for.
We are looking for new people to work on the QUARTERLY to help ease the work load on the present staff. This may be forthcoming after the QUARTERLY has time to make its impression. We still face the unsolved problem of how scholastically formal and how technical, or how readable the QUARTERLY should be, whether it should aim at the studious, well-informed homophile, or at the disinterested pedant, who will judge us by the depth and impenitrability [sic] of our footnotes. We have already had, and expected, criticisms from both sides.
The QUARTERLY is a going concern. It has won new respect for the work of the Corporation. We also feel that the establishment of the QUARTERLY has given new strength and freedom to ONE Magazine.
James Kepner, Editor