Sending Out an S.O.S.

Independent media and labels bear the brunt of the postal service raising its rates.

"I know that periodical publishers are concerned about these new prices and our governors are also concerned with the initial proposal the Postal Regulatory Commission had recommended," explains USPS spokesman Dave Partenheimer, adding that the changes won't go into effect until July 15, to allow those affected by these rate increases additional time to prepare for them.

However, none of this helps Verbicide's Jackson Ellis, who, aside from writing a letter to his congressman and signing a petition sponsored by The Nation, can only sit back and wait for what seems like an inevitable price hike for his already-struggling magazine.

"I really don't know what my plan of attack is at this point," he says. "All I can do is stay the course and continue to run things the way that I've been running them." Ellis adds that for him it's a triple blow: In addition to the periodical rate increase, he often uses media mail to send CDs to his reviewers and surface mail to ship Verbicide internationally. "I don't make money on my magazine," he adds. "Someday I would love to. But with the way things seem to be going, I don't really see that as a reality."

Last year, the last independent magazine distributor, Independent Press Association, went out of business and took many smaller magazines off the newsstands — and now these latest postal hikes could make the prospect of independent publishing even more dismal. "I don't think we deserve this," Ellis admits with a sigh. "I feel like I've worked really hard and I've been running a really honest business for a long time, and instead of getting some respect, the industry and the government are turning their back on me."

In fact, at this point, he's considering giving up the magazine altogether — a sentiment that's likely to be echoed by many of his peers who also lack six-digit circulation numbers or parent companies. "It's been my dream since I was a kid to run a magazine," Ellis says. "I turn 27 this year; I don't want to see my dream end just because of the cruel logistics of the dollar bill, but if these proposed policies go through I'm not going to have any other choice. It's literally impossible."

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