An increase in postal rates

This item appears on page 104 of the June 2008 issue.

Due to the recent horrendous Post Office price increase to magazines, we now must charge $2 per issue on a one-year subscription.

About the same as you pay for a glass of iced tea in a restaurant.

We think the abundance of Travel information you find in International Travel News is more valuable than half a latte at Starbucks.

A woman called up to complain, saying that she could get another Travel magazine for $12. I fought the urge to say that they know what their magazine is worth.

How can some others charge less? Well, they really sock it to the advertisers. And the advertisers, in turn, put that cost into the prices of the products they sell to travelers.

All this nonsense started when LIFE magazine (for whom I did some work in SE Asia in 1967) was at one time charging 10 cents per issue (the cost of printing but a few pages of the magazine). Because of that, they had to get a massive amount of dollars from companies selling soup, soap and cigarettes.

When television came along and the big corporations thought they could reach more people more cheaply, they abandoned the magazines, and great names like LIFE, LOOK, Collier’s and Saturday Evening Post (I guess I’m really dating myself) became history.

Today, we see some companies in Travel that want “prestige” putting their color ads in magazines with thick glossy pages and paying double what ITN charges advertisers per reader. I ran into one magazine that is charging FIVE times per reader what we charge. When you get on that plane or on that ship, you’ve paid the exorbitant charges for that ad.

In contrast, most of the ads in ITN are from owner-operated companies, and in many cases your guide on the trip will be the owner himself or herself.

What do you get for your ITN two dollars? The news.

And you get more candor. One of the reasons I started ITN (in 1976) was I noticed that a disease was sweeping through a particular country, yet the newspaper Travel sections weren’t mentioning it. Would have been bad for tourism.

With ITN, you get what our readers/writers, themselves, say. And they often really say it. Which results in our office getting heated letters from some travel companies. Our readers, real travelers, are writing to share, not to line their pockets. For those big feature articles you see here, the pay is not cash but an extension of the writer’s ITN subscription.

What has our unique philosophy resulted in?

James “Jay” Sibley of Houston, Texas, recently called the office to say, “I used to subscribe to (deletion ours), which doesn’t go into any depth in their stories. I keep (deletion ours) for their ‘pretty pictures,’ but I don’t use it for information.

“I trust what I see in ITN because I know it comes from travelers like myself. I tell my friends about what I see in ITN.

“I see advertisers in ITN I can’t find anywhere else.

“I love ITN. I pass my copies to other people and tell them to send for a sample issue. I tell my fellow travelers about it on all my trips. In fact, I think that’s where I first heard about it, on a trip 10 years ago when I asked everyone what travel companies they liked. Several told me they found the best companies in ITN.”

And we expect you will, too.