Support the endeavors of The New Criterion and help us reach the next generation of readers.
How did you discover The New Criterion? It’s a happy question—one that I like to ask readers, and one that I enjoy pondering myself.
For me, the felicitous connection came through my college Greek tutor. I was languishing in graduate school when The New Criterion entered the world, fully formed, like Athena from the head of Zeus. My former teacher, who knew Hilton Kramer, alerted me to its advent, and I duly made my way to the library to bestow my curiosity on this chaste and elegant literary newcomer.
Our print circulation has nearly doubled over the last eighteen months; online readership is now in the millions of page views per year.
I liked it. I liked the typography and layout and even the unusual size of the magazine. I liked the paucity of advertisements and publishing gimmicks. Above all, I liked the matter: essays—readable essays—on F. R. Leavis, Barbara Pym, Proust, Thomas Mann, Macaulay, and so much more. This, I thought, was the real thing: a window on culture, our culture, that was serious but lively, that understood that Matthew Arnold or Nietzsche or Augustine was in a deep sense our contemporary, not just a worthy antiquary. I sampled the few issues that had appeared and was hooked.
My colleagues like to share their own stories, from the college professor who steered them to a subscription, to seeing a copy of the magazine in a library, to the recommendation of a friend or family member, to a link seen on a blog or “social media” (ah, youth).
In the editorial offices, we have been thinking a lot about such stories. At The New Criterion, I am pleased to report, the numbers are all up, way up, when it comes to our readership. Our print circulation has nearly doubled over the last eighteen months; online readership is now in the millions of page views per year. Consider this the bright side to the culture’s otherwise gloomy prognosis: there is a hunger for incisive commentary. The New Criterion can satisfy it.
In an increasingly manic world—“distracted,” as T. S. Eliot put it, “from distraction by distraction”—the enduring criticism of The New Criterion provides both an anchor and a springboard, linking readers to an enabling past, while also elevating them to a more cognizant future.
Our recent successes are not accidents. The lilies of the field, it is said, toil not, neither do they spin. We’re at one with the shrubbery about spinning—we forbear to spin—but toil we do. Our recent increases in reach and circulation are the fruit of much thought and effort on the part of our staff. At the end of the day, however, our success is the result of your collaboration and interest in our endeavors. New Criterion readers are a singularly loyal tribe. I am proud to count many of you as charter subscribers whose first issue was our first issue, Volume 1, Number 1, September 1982.
Our success is the result of your collaboration and interest in our endeavors.
Our challenge now is to cut through the noise of popular culture and the institutions of received wisdom to reach the next generation of readers. We have therefore looked to expand our points of contact to the magazine as we consider the many ways that the first-time reader can become engaged with the ideas of The New Criterion.
One successful initiative has been our free weekly email newsletters. Our “Critic’s Notebook” of editorial recommendations and “From the Archives” digest, drawing from our treasure-trove of collected essays, bring “the best that has been thought and said” (long-time readers will catch the reference) to thousands of inboxes. These newsletters offer a free introduction to the magazine while also providing a deeper look at what we do.
The same goes for our new (and, again, gratis) media offerings—audio- and video-casts each month that feature our writers and editors discussing their work. Then there is the writing on Dispatch, the area of our website where we offer free access to a range of web exclusive essays, greatly expanding the amount of material we publish beyond the fixed page limitation of our print publication.
You are our greatest ambassador, and your support is vital to our future.
Speaking of print, these efforts all supplement our concerted outreach for the print magazine—the flagship of The New Criterion, informing the tone and tenor of everything else we do in whatever format it happens to appear. From greater newsstand distribution to subscription drives to our placement with certain airline carriers, we are always on the lookout for fresh ways to get The New Criterion into the hands of newly engaged readers.
You will not be surprised to learn that these efforts all take resources. As a reader of The New Criterion, you are our greatest ambassador, and your support is vital to our future. As we look to close our annual budget gap by June 30, I hope you will consider how you discovered The New Criterion and help us help others make a kindred journey of discovery.
Yours in thanks and for the future,
Roger Kimball, Editor & Publisher