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From The Editor

Paul and I have been doing the newsletter with this new 16-paged magazine format for several months now, and in that time we have managed to get a sense of what difference in cost this new printing system will make. By dividing our production cost into the number of PLN readers we have come up with a figure of nearly 75¢ to produce and mail each copy of the newsletter to you. This amount does not include PLN-related postage, phone calls to our volunteers, photocopying, and the many other costs related to running the day-to-day operation of the paper. Anyway, this 75¢ is about 25¢ more than the approximately 50¢ it cost when we were putting out only ten pages a month. So our productions costs have risen by a quarter per issue, and for that 25¢ we are able to give you six more pages of newsletter each month.

Since our cost of production has gone up, we are going to pass this extra expense on to you in the form of higher subscription rates. From now on, when you send in a contribution it will buy you fewer months worth of newsletter. Up until now we have been charging readers only 50¢ per month, the actual cost of production of producing and mailing ten photocopied pages. From now on, however, the money we receive will be broken down into 75¢ increments, with the subscriber getting a month for each one of them. This amount will pay the 75¢ it costs us to make and mail the 16 pages of paper to you, as well as to help offset some of our ancillary costs. And this 75¢ amount will be especially important to cover the added expense of subscriptions for the 38 percent of our readers who are getting the newsletter for free. These are prisoners on death row, in control units, or else located in some of the Southern states where money is next to impossible to earn.

In addition to raising our annual suggested subscription price from $10 to $12, we will also be raising our institutional subscription rate from $25 to $35 per year. For prisoners and low income people, these rates are of course flexible. As always, if you send us what you can you will get the paper (we mail more than 38 percent out for free already). Just remember that Paul and I are prisoners, and any shortfall in income must be made up from our own pockets (we each earn a maximum of 38¢ an hour at our prison jobs).

It is our fond hope that the above cost increases will only be temporary, lasting only as long as it takes to settle into the implementation of this new and larger printing format. It will be tough going for us at first. Paul calls it a "Great Leap" forward. I think of it more as a "Great Plunge" (because I'm not sure where we'll land). I worry about these first six or eight months of the new system. While it will be hard for awhile, the beauty of this way of doing the paper is that, as the number of readers increases, our production cost per newsletter decreases. In other words, the more readers we have the less it costs per paper to get the printing done. There is a point at which we will paying less for 16 printed pages than we were for 10 photocopied pages. That's the point we want to reach.

The first thousand copies costs a lot, but each additional thousand costs much less. Accordingly, we need to significantly increase our paying subscriber base, and to accomplish this we need your help. We need each of you to take personal responsibility for getting others at your facility, or friends and family members on the outside, to subscribe to PLN. For readers on the streets, we need you to get others who may be interested in reading PLN added on to our mailing list. If you take on this task we can get our subscription costs back down to where we like them to be--we can provide more people with better newsletters for less cost.

If each reader gets only one new paying subscriber we will be in good shape for the long haul. We won't be folding or anything like that even if we are unable to pull off this expansion effort. The worse case scenario is that we will go back to ten photocopied pages a month. It would be a retreat, but we would continue to be here for you as long as you continue to support us. Still, if you want to see us grow, we will need more paying readers. Help us out.

That about ends today's discussion. See you next month. Be sure to pass this on to a comrade when you are done reading it. And please, do work at getting us more paying readers so we can grow. I'll close this diatribe off with a little quote I read in the newspaper the other day. It seems that after years of noble service on state prison-related boards, Harry Whittington, chairman of the Texas Public Finance Authority, has finally come to this conclusion: "Prisons are to crime what greenhouses are to plants."

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