Letters to the Editor
After the announcement of our recent subscription price increase, the following e[hy]mail dialog took place between a reader and Linux Journal publisher Phil Hughes. We'd like to hear other readers' thoughts on this issue.
Phil (in c.o.l.announce): We want to continue to make LJ affordable but it has to be affordable for us to print as well. We settled on a $3 increase for 1-year subscriptions and a $5 increase on 2-year subscriptions. If paper prices and postage prices remain fairly stable, we can live with that and hope that you can too. Oh, if you happen to own a forest suitable for making into paper and want to support the Linux community, please contact me.
Charles A. Stickelman (email@example.com): Have you looked into stock made from things other than trees? There appear to be several alternatives to wood pulp; straw and hemp both make a great substitute. Hemp does not need the harsh chemicals to process, and is therefore much less acidic than wood pulp. One benefit of this reduced acidity is that hemp[hy]based paper is much more stable than wood[hy]based; it doesn't turn yellow and deteriorate. This is good for reference materials (like LJ) that may need to be around awhile. There are also other economic/ecologic concerns that hemp solves. This has nothing to do with the recreational uses/abuses of hemp by-products.
Phil: Yes, we have. We have used hemp/straw copier paper but had a problem with curl. But hemp[hy]based paper is just not available for the type of press magazines are printed on, and is even more expensive than tree[hy]based paper for other types of printing. To me this is a political issue and I am on the side of getting hemp recognized as a good alternative, which should substantially reduce the price. Linux Journal spends tens of thousands of dollars on printing each month, which sounds like big money to me, but it isn't to the paper industry.
I am more socially conscious than most in this business (or any business). The problem is that it is hard to tell potential subscribers that our products cost more than the competition because we use tree[hy]free, acid[hy]free paper and soy inks. We do what we can and hopefully the environmentally responsible solution will become the low[hy]cost solution. For example, we now use copier paper made from old telephone books that (finally) costs less than non[hy]recycled. [We have just been notified that this paper has been discontinued, sadly—ED]
Charles: I've been a subscriber of LJ since issue #1, and I love it! It's very well done; easy to read and quite educational. For the record, I'd be willing to pay an extra $5/yr (on top of you $3/$5 increase) to have LJ use soy-based ink and hemp/straw based paper.
Readers, what do you think? Would you be willing to pay more to get Linux Journal and other publications on an environmentally-friendly, more durable paper stock (if such paper becomes available)?