US Postal mail rate hikes screw micro-publishers: Thanks, Time Warner!

Snip from "Going Postal," a feature by Callie Enlow in the New York Review of Magazines, on how a recent US Postal mail rate hike reportedly pushed-for by Time Warner is killing tiny 'zine publishers. (Note to the digital chirren: 'zines are like blogs on paper. They're what old people used to read before god gave us LiveJournal. Boing Boing once was one.)

Ben Scott had better things to do than listen to a bunch of little magazines
rant about their unreasonable postage bills. As the policy director of Free
, a group that specialized in fighting media concentration, he and 10
co-workers in Washington were wrapped up in defending internet
accessibility. But in late February 2007, Scott's phone started buzzing with
accusations from panicked publishers of small-circulation magazines. The
United States Postal Service, they said, was hammering the last nail in the
coffin of independent publishing.

Periodicals with circulations of fewer than 250,000 (some with much
fewer–even in the hundreds) had just discovered that the rates they paid the
USPS for postage were about to skyrocket, and they had only eight business
days to dispute the proposed increase. While these independent publishers
had expected the rates to rise, they believed it would be by about 12
percent, which had been the USPS' own suggestion. However, during an arduous
10 months of hearings on postal rates in 2006, during which the
small-magazine community was conspicuously absent, the stakes changed

Instead of a simple markup, the entire rate system was overhauled, imposing
a cost-based structure on a branch of government originally established to
provide a public good, one that the Founding Fathers deemed vital to our
democratic society. The Postal System was built on the premise of promoting
the free flow of ideas by giving preferential treatment to their most common
method of conveyance: the printed pages of periodicals.

Of particular concern to Free Press was the discovery that the biggest force
behind the formula by which rates were to be increased was none other than
Time Warner, the largest magazine publisher in the United States, which had
been working overtime to influence the outcome of the hearings.

Link, illustration courtesy NYRM. (via Ned Sublette)