Cites & Insights: Any point in updating?

My somewhat downbeat previous post has been up for nearly a week–and has yielded three responses. But hey, it’s Friday, so I’m not going to read that level of response as “almost nobody gives a damn.”

Instead, I’d like to focus on the second part of the post regarding possible changes in Cites & Insights if it makes sense to continue C&I. I’ll quote the whole discussion, but precede it with a tight summary and one new possibility:

  • I could write C&I essays in “Web-first” fashion, using a cleaner Web-oriented template in Word for each essay. The PDF issue would still be the canonical form and might differ slightly (some words and paragraphs from the Web essays might be missing in the PDF).
  • New: I could also do an ePub version of Cites & Insights. It looks as though, if I turn off page headers and footers (and, of course, switch to a single column), Calibre does a plausible job of converting Word’s “simple HTML” output to ePub–not perfect, but not terrible.
  • And if I had some inkling of possible support–either through sponsorship or through Kickstarter, if I thought that would work–I could “free the text” by changing to a CC BY license, requiring only attribution.

Or, if C&I has become a big yawn or a place you open, check to see if you’re mentioned and then leave, well, it would take four bimonthly issues to reach the magic Gross number (or the Buffy number, if you prefer) and call it a day.

Opinions? Comments? Sponsorship possibilities?

Here’s the previous discussion:

I’ve been pondering a revamp that would make C&I “web-first” in some ways: That is, essays would be prepared (still using Word) using a template tuned for the web, with HTML versions posted after they’re edited–possibly (possibly?) even on a rolling basis before an issue is complete. I might even make essays or the issue as a whole available in ePub format, if future conversions work out better than in the past.

The canonical C&I would still be the PDF, I think, and it would still be designed to be space-efficient in printed form. I say “canonical” because copyfitting could result in some words and, occasionally, sections of composite essays being changed or removed to achieve the almost-exactly-to-the-end-of-an-even-number-of-pages goal.

If I do all this, which would involve some deliberate effort, I might also do one other thing to make C&I more web-native: Adopt a new CC license, dropping the “-NC” so that the only requirement is attribution.

If I had new sponsorship–or thought I could successfully adopt a “by the issue” sponsorship/ad model that would yield, say, $5,000/year in revenue–I’d be encouraged to make this package of changes and refresh C&I’s overall design in the process. I’m also wondering whether it’s worth trying a Kickstarter approach to pay for the next, say, 18 months of C&I…

I’ve never used public numbers for what I’m actually looking for in C&I sponsorship. Here’s a possible set, more modest than I’d like, but hey:

To underwrite a single issue without explicit advertising and without a sponsorship line on the home page (but with sponsorship noted on the first and last page of each issue and the closing paragraph of each HTML essay): $400. For a full year of such underwriting: $4,000.

With explicit advertising–up to a full page in the PDF issue, up to a text paragraph in the HTML: $600. For a full year, $6,000.

C&I home page sponsorship–with a credit line and possibly banner, but without actual issue underwriting: $250/month or $2,500/year

Home page and issue underwriting without display ads but with other forms of credit (the ideal): $500 for an issue, $5,000 for the year. For all of this and ads in the issues: $700 for an issue, $7,000 for the year.

All of these are negotiable. If I go the Kickstarter route (and am accepted, and achieve the goal), those who provided high donations would be the sponsors, and there would be no advertising.

Thoughts? Responses? Should I just let C&I dwindle off to nothingness…(that is, would I add more value to the field by spending my time with the Friends group bookstore–just as I’d certainly add more value to our household budget by spending that time greeting people at the local Walmart, if I was willing to do that…)

5 Responses to “Cites & Insights: Any point in updating?”

  1. Michelle says:

    I don’t have any solutions for you, just a wish that C&I continue. Your essays and commentary are insightful and interesting and I truly appreciate the work that brings together so many perspectives to cover a topic, as well as your own worthy opinions.

    Keep up the good work.

  2. will manley says:

    Walt, I too enjoy and appreciate the work you put into C and I. I learn a great deal from your essays because they center on topics I know very little about. I do hope you continue. With regards to the Harper Collins “26” issue I think that is a topic that every blogger beat to death. You brough fresh insights to the table, but there really was a general Harper Collins fatigue. Hope this helps.

  3. walt says:

    Thanks both. Helpful in both cases. Keep ’em coming.

  4. Steve Lawson says:

    Harking back to the initialisms on the original post, I’m going to go with DWYL: do what you love.

    It has seemed for a while now like C&I is more a source of anxiety for you than a labor of love. Maybe you should take a break. Maybe you should do a four-page issue. Maybe you should publish just when you feel like it. Maybe you should write completely different kinds of articles like interviews or bibliographies or fiction.

    I think it would be wonderful if you could make money on C&I, but I think that the amount and quality of free writing about libraries has destroyed any market that might have once existed.

  5. walt says:

    C&I is a labor of love. The loss of two jobs in a row, and the resulting lack of earned income, is a source of anxiety. The two are not entirely unrelated.

    Of the suggestions in your second paragraph, well, watch for the next issue: I’m already ready to try one of them.

    Steve–I guess I hope potential sponsors and other librarians don’t listen too closely to what seems to be your consistent advice and judgment, which I think I can properly summarize as “No library literature [with the exception of one $65 book on unconferences] is worth paying for.” I do applaud consistency. I guess.