Wednesday, May 09, 2007

American fanzines and small labels face last post

Small (and not-so-small) magazines and record labels in the US are facing another slap in the face, as they try to cope with challenges from the digital world: the American Postal service is axing international surface mail and hiking its rates for mailing media. It's going to hurt, publishers and record companies have told Westword:

"It's not going be the thing that kills me," [Jackson Ellis, publisher of Verbicide] says via phone from his office in Vermont, "but coupled with the lack of advertisements and the general slump in print publications, it could be the thing that pushes me over the edge. I'm already operating at a loss, and I can't keep doing this forever. These new regulations don't give me an opportunity to grow."
"The new postal policies are definitely going to affect our rates, but we're not going to stop doing what we do," says No Idea Records' mail-order manager, Matt Sweeting. "I hate to put it in these terms, but the days of the two-dollar seven-inch are over, and that's kind of frustrating. Unfortunately, if we can't send our music via media mail, we're going to have to pass on our extra costs to consumers, because that's the way a business works." Although No Idea currently sells its LPs for seven dollars and CDs from anywhere between seven and nine dollars, these new rates are inevitably going to cause the label's prices to creep up, and quite possibly force it to rethink its business model altogether.

You'd have thought the Postal Service might have felt it had a vested interest in supporting people who produce stuff that needs postal workers to distribute, rather than forcing them to think about transferring their stuff into pdfs and mp3s instead. But then, it is part of the government, so maybe any hope of some sort of longterm strategy is always going to be crushed.

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