Open Letters
January 9, 2001 1:38 PM   Subscribe

Open Letters stopped publishing on Friday. This was mentioned quietly in a comment in an unrelated thread last week, but I didn't notice at the time. They're taking Paypal donations to be distributed among the 72 contributors. What a drag.
posted by waxpancake (14 comments total)
I'm the quiet mentioner. It is a drag. They are leaving the archives up for some time, though, so go and download all the weekly PDF versions. I'm going to get mine bound into some kind of spiral book thingie at Kinkos. An oasis of good writing on the web. Let's hope it resurfaces...
posted by jmcnally at 1:43 PM on January 9, 2001

Why did they stop publishing?
posted by internook at 1:48 PM on January 9, 2001

Wow, that's terrible. I was going to start reading OL on a more regular basis in 2001 (I usually keep forgetting about the site), but now I guess I'll just have the archives. Is the closure decision discussed by them somewhere? Was this done for finance reasons or is there other stuff involved?
posted by gluechunk at 1:51 PM on January 9, 2001

the closure was discussed at a pretty good length during the last week of the site, in the editor's letters. read those and you should get an idea of what it was.
posted by beefula at 1:56 PM on January 9, 2001

I have a feeling of real loss in regard to this announcement. It seems there is an undefined possibility that this may turn out to be more of a hiatus than a closure. I hope that this is the case.

Am I prepared to pay? Yes.

posted by lucien at 3:18 PM on January 9, 2001

I didn't realize that they were also doing a print version. I was told that that was what put them under.
posted by aniretac at 3:25 PM on January 9, 2001

If you read all the letters from the editor, it's pretty clearly spelled out what 'put them under'. They were experimenting with various mediums but they never did a print version, or indicated they were really close to doing one.
posted by beefula at 4:03 PM on January 9, 2001

ok, I admit. i didn't read the letters from the editor. I am willing to open up right here and say that I never will read them- even under duress. Could someone, for the love of almighty God, just reveal that deep dark secret in this thread? It is killing me...
posted by internook at 6:19 PM on January 9, 2001

Your loss. You should go there, read the last letter from X, then go back and read her other letters. It's worth it.
posted by rodii at 7:10 PM on January 9, 2001

Well, I read the editor's letters and to me it's still unclear. there seems to be an issue of cost vs. income but it's never explicated. and they're not looking for anyone to give them money to help producing, just money to pay back people who [I think] weren't expecting to get paid in the first place. I wrote the editor a letter asking what was up -- if they needed money or hosting or anything I could give -- and didn't hear back. It's vague, sez me. It's fine to be out of money, it's fine to just be tired of it all, it's fine to stop publishing for any reason you want, really, but to have a whole web site set up specifically about personal communication and then get cagey at the end seems kind of precious to me. anyone have any more details besides the weird posts from the editor?
posted by jessamyn at 9:03 PM on January 9, 2001

Hey, Jessamyn, sorry I haven't written you back yet -- I'm behind on last week's mail. Those editor's letters weren't meant to be cagey, though I'm not surprised to hear they read that way. The problem is that there's not a neat answer to the question: no "deep dark secret." The best answer I can come up with is this: the job of editing the magazine had become so all-encompassing and 24/7 that I couldn't take the time to think about the editorial questions I wanted to think about: how to make the magazine better, and more stable.

So it seemed like a good idea to stop while we still had the goodwill of our readers intact, and spend some time trying to find a more sustainable way to publish.

I know that if we'd asked readers for money to continue, rather than to pay writers retroactively, we might well have raised more, but my strong suspicion is that it wouldn't have been enough on its own for us to keep going -- which would have put me in the awkward position of having to tell people that their donations were for naught.

What we will need in order to return is some sturdier funding, which we could then, I hope, supplement with voluntary subscription payments. I don't think that's an impossible dream -- but it was definitely impossible to make it happen while I was still publishing full tilt. Over the next few weeks and months, I'm going to try to make that idea a reality. If it works, we'll return. If it doesn't, well, we'll always have the archives.

I don't mean to intrude on the conversation, by the way, and I hope I'm not breaking metafilter protocol here -- just thought I might be able to clarify things slightly, in my cagey way.
posted by paultough at 10:13 PM on January 9, 2001

You do great work. Sorry to see it go. (My co-worker Alivia wrote the one about the Aeron chairs.)
posted by waxpancake at 11:26 PM on January 9, 2001

Member since July 6, first comment posted! Well, Paul, it's good to know you're among us, anyway.
posted by rodii at 10:01 AM on January 10, 2001

thanks for the fyi paul and as I said before, anything we can do to help..... you do [did?] great work, I'm just sad to see it end a few weeks after I clued into it.
posted by jessamyn at 5:06 PM on January 10, 2001

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