Thursday, 20 March 2014

Freedom gives up on print

I haven't been a reader of Freedom since 1886, but it sometimes feels that, given there are samples of ancient back issues around the house and even some years of bound copies gathering dust. I started reading it in 1972, was an individual seller for a period and knew various contributors and editors including the late Colin Ward, Vernon Richards and Nicolas Walter, and the very much not late Dennis Gould. I particularly liked the magazine in the days when "Ian the Printer" from Margate would add his own column printed up the side of the back page, in those days when the late Arthur Moyes would also write incomprehensible art reviews. We go back a long way. I also own many Freedom Press books, one of which - Anarchy in Action - I refer people to in the bookshop if they want to read a primer on anarchism.
But all things must pass and Freedom is going online shortly. That one small magazine is going online is neither here not there in the grand scheme of things, but it is obvious from the bookshop that few people read the left press other than on line these days. I regret this immensely. I'm reprinting Freedom's statement. I guess it could easily be written by any small mag.
Since Freedom: A Journal of Anarchist Socialism first appeared in 1886 it has been in the form of a newspaper to be sold. Now the Freedom Collective has decided that we shall move content online accompanied by a freesheet after publication of the upcoming second issue of 2014. We have come to realise that a sold hardcopy newspaper is no longer a viable means of promoting the anarchist message. Despite a huge publicity boost to Freedom following the firebomb attack last year (shop sales rose 50%) there has not been a corresponding increase in distribution of the paper. Only 29 shops, social centres and individuals now sell it and the number of paying subscribers has fallen to 225. As a result annual losses now amount to £3,500, an unsustainable level for our shoestring budget.
Readers will have noticed that the paper has struggled to come out on time for some while. An underlying problem has been a lack of capacity to sustain it. We had hoped that Freedom would be adopted as THE paper of the anarchist movement. Despite a great deal of goodwill from anarchist groups and individuals over the years, sadly this has not been the case. Although Freedom Press has changed from a political group with a particular point of view to a resource for anarchism as a whole, we have not managed to shake the legacy of the past and get different groups to back it as a collective project. We hope an online version and freesheet will make that possible.
Subscribers will be offered a refund or book in lieu but we are happy to accept donations towards the costs of the new project. Charlotte Dingle will remain as editor and of course the shop, publishing and book distribution will continue as normal. As will the use of Angel Alley for meetings, events, offices, postal address and drop-in protest advice.
The print version could not have continues so long without the generosity of Aldgate Press, currently amounting to a subsidy of nearly £10,000 a year. They have very kindly agreed to print a regular freesheet/news compilation to enable us to keep in touch with our readers who don’t have the internet, and a special final edition, which will be released for the London Anarchist Bookfair in October.

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