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Whole Earth Catalog Costs

Steve Baer pointed out the need for cost accounting on our products. Here's a preliminary rendering of our accounts.
From 1 May 1968 to 1 March 1969 I've invested $14,800 in loans and $3,800 in unpaid time ($5/hrj in the CATALOG: total $18.600.  Income during that time has been $5,997in CATALOG and book sales and subscriptions, $550 in fees for performances of WAR:GOD, $846 in rent from others in our building, and $52 in donations: total $7,445. All income went directly into expenses, so our total spent (above minus 1 March bank balance) was $22,913.

The cost and income pies look like this for the two months of January and February 1969 (during this time we published the January Supplement and did a second printing of the Fall CATALOG).

The key question among publishers is always "What's your unit cost?" Divide publication expenses by quantity of thing published - that's unit cost.  Obviously the greater volume you publish, the lower the cost. Starting from scratch our unit cost was high, $4.25 for the first 1000 CATALOGS.  We were fortunate and sold them all -mostly at $2.50 each to distributors or $2.00 each to subscribers, some at $3.00 each to booksellers or $5.00 each to individuals.     We printed another 1,000, which took the unit price down to $2.37. If they all sell, we'll have broken even on the 2000 Fall '68 CATALOGS.

Publishing is a numbers game.  Volume.  With more subscribers and buyers we're increasingly able to lower the price on the CATALOG and deepen and widen its research and its usefulness. More ain't necessarily merrier, but it permits you to keep playing.