The East Bay Express is dropping TMW this week, due to the usual budgetary reasons, which is a shame — they were one of the few papers I actually managed to add over the past couple of years. But these things happen — I’m grateful to them for trying to make it work for as long as they did.
However, it serves as a gentle reminder of the vicissitudes of print. As I wrote last spring:
As you may have heard, the newspaper industry has been undergoing some difficulties of late. As regular readers of this blog are aware, too many altweeklies have decided to save literally tens of dollars a week by cutting their most popular feature â€” the comics.
Thanks to the internet, my cartoons are more widely read than I could have ever imagined possible, when I started out twenty or so years ago. But as my readership expands exponentially, my income remains in steady decline. Iâ€™m no economist, but that doesnâ€™t seem sustainable to me.
Iâ€™m still fortunate enough to have a substantial number of clients both in print and online, for which I am profoundly grateful â€” but the reality is that the world is changing rapidly, and we all need to keep figuring out different ways to adapt.
So Iâ€™ve decided to add a new component to the overall Tomorrowco strategy for survival, and offer my own email subscription service which â€” as previously noted â€” Iâ€™m calling SPARKYâ€™S LIST. I didnâ€™t want to ask for charity â€” Iâ€™ve always been somewhat uncomfortable even having that donations button on the blog. Instead, I wanted to offer something of value to TMWâ€™s most devoted readers â€” the opportunity to see the cartoon several days before it appears online or in print, as well as the convenience of having it delivered directly to your inbox. If youâ€™re one of those people who can never remember where you left your keys or what day TMW appears on what website, this is the answer for you. About the cartoon, I mean. I canâ€™t help you with your keys.
Think of it as a Kickstarter project to sustain something that already exists, and that you would like to see continue.
(As it’s developed, the weekly email I send out usually contains substantial commentary and additional links relating to each week’s cartoon, as well as any other random stuff I might be thinking about. There have been some giveaways, and members were eligible for a discount on my new book and the plush Sparky at TopatoCo.)
If you enjoy the work I do, please consider signing up. Andrew Sullivan recently raised close to a million dollars for his blogging — the merest fraction of that would go a long way toward supporting This Modern World.