Possibilities 1: Keeping C&I going

It may make sense to do individual posts on some of the possibilities I’m considering. Consider this #1 of n, where n is not known.

Background

There’s this post–when I was informed that my part-time/contract writing/editing gig with LYRASIS was ending. That post included a quick summary of possibilities.

Two days later, there was this post–and if you read it, read it all, including the surprise from Library Society of the World.

Finally–so far–there’s this post, which repeats the good news portion of the second post (since people using RSS typically won’t see the update) and offers some quick thoughts on LSW and on my interactions with a group of professionals most of whom are much younger than I am.

There are also the comments on various posts–some of which have to do with following my own bliss and deciding whether I want to keep a hand in or would be happy enough to be fully retired if money wasn’t an issue.

Keeping a hand in

Here, I think, the answer is reasonably clear. As long as I believe I’m actually adding value and that value is appreciated, I’d like to keep a hand in–to maintain some involvement in the library field at the national/international level. (As opposed to dropping out and maybe joining the local Friends, getting more involved at the local level.)

The LSW response and other responses to that second post convince me that some people, at least, value Cites & Insights and the other work I do in the field.That appreciation (and, I guess, personal appreciation) is enough to get me to ALA Annual this year, at least for part of the conference. It’s also enough, already, to assure that C&I will keep going through…well, through ALA Annual.

The longer-term question is whether the perceived value translates into enough to justify the time and other expenditures, as compared to other things I could be doing (or others would like me to do).

If the answer is Yes, I’d love to keep doing C&I for some time to come.

The best way to express that answer is through sponsorship–or, I suppose, through the Andersonomics answer, where some modest number of fans loves my work so much that they pay enough to keep it going. What does he say? 1,000 fans at $100 each per year: Presto, a pretty decent living.

Fan-based support is one possibility. 1,000 at $100 is so far beyond the realm of possibility (or need) that I won’t mention it again. 200 at $50 would, for “fan-based” sponsorship, be a more than acceptable level. But I don’t see that happening, at least based on results to date (even with LSW’s work).

Sponsorship

Last night, a close friend (no, not the same close friend mentioned before) asked how much it actually costs to keep C&I going. There are two answers, and only one is really relevant:

  1. Direct cash outlay: Very little. LISHost hosting fees, domain fees, the cost of Acrobat upgrades (I probably wouldn’t need Acrobat otherwise), some portion of the cost of broadband, etc. Certainly a three-digit annual number; depending on how you break things down, probably a relatively low three-digit annual number.
  2. Time, effort, “opportunity cost:” Large. I don’t track exactly how much time I spend on C&I directly or indirectly, but it’s probably in the neighborhood of 15 to 20 hours a week overall. I’ve had suggestions of other things I should be doing with some of that time (cough more chores cough but also various local things that could yield revenue)…

What does that translate to in dollars? That’s tricky, because it’s part of a larger whole–and the revenue portions of that larger whole have mostly disappeared. (Funny how expenses don’t follow the same pattern.)

When I had sponsorship, it ranged in the medium four digits a year. Would that be enough now? Maybe–for “bare” sponsorship (that is, with credit on the front & back of each issue and on the website. For expanded sponsorship (with ads in C&I or “words from the sponsor”) probably not–and that level of sponsorship certainly wouldn’t encourage me to keep going to ALA beyond this summer. (Taking C&I behind a pay wall or requiring paid subscriptions isn’t a plausible option, I don’t believe.)

An appropriate sum would need to be negotiated. That sum could include speaking or writing for the sponsor, at some appropriate level.

Who could sponsor C&I? My general answer is “anybody I don’t normally write about,” so as to avoid possible conflict of interest. That answer includes, as a minimum:

  • Bibliographic utilities or their competitors
  • Vendors of integrated library systems (or disintegrated library systems, for that matter)
  • Book wholesalers, distributors or other library suppliers
  • Foundations (with one obvious exception, but there’s no way Pew was going to sponsor me anyway)
  • Consortia
  • Publishers (with possible exceptions).

And probably others I haven’t thought of. If there’s an acceptable offer, this would be a first-come/first-served situation. My email continues to be waltcrawford at gmail dot com.

Will C&I go away if there’s no sponsorship and donations dry up? I honestly don’t have an answer to that question. Appreciation is nice, but at some point it doesn’t pay the bills…

That’s Part 1. Not sure when Part 2 will appear. I plan to do some regular blogging as well.

2 Responses to “Possibilities 1: Keeping C&I going”

  1. Steve Lawson Says:

    Walt, I don’t know what else you have in mind, but I was wondering if Kickstarter might work for you? Set a reasonable goal, come up with some premiums to encourage people to give more than they might otherwise, and see if you can get funding for a year. If it’s funded, great, keep going as before.

  2. walt Says:

    That’s an interesting suggestion, one that I wasn’t fully aware of. It might be more appropriate for one or two of the project possibilities I haven’t described yet than for an ongoing publication…but, well, worth thinking about.

    “What else I have in mind”: For C&I, nothing solid yet; a colleague’s been talking to people, and I have one possible discussion at ALA. For other things…watch this blog!


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