When PM, The Star and the Daily Compass had closed in the winter of 1952, I.F. Stone decided to start “I.F. Stone’s Weekly” by soliciting the mailing list of The Daily Compass using direct mail. This was not as simple as it sounds today. Letters had to be stuffed by hand and sorted; after some had been mailed, it turned out that the printed material had omitted the subscription price ($5.00) although $10.00 had been correctly mentioned for air mail. Somehow, by mailing 30,000 readers and running some ads, 5,200 charter subscribers were secured. This list grew to 20,000 by 1963 and 70,000 in its final year, 1971.
Postage costs were extremely low because the Weekly went out second class for 1/8 of a cent per copy or about 6 cents per year per reader. This Government postal subsidy made it possible for the Weekly to be published and distributed for a $5 subscription price that never changed. But because I.F. Stone and Esther Stone ran the Weekly together as an economical “mom and pop” operation, it was in the black from the beginning.
By the time it closed, with 70,000 readers, it was grossing $350,000 per year or, in year 2007 dollars, perhaps over $2,000,000 per year.
New! A searchable database of I.F. Stone’s Weekly is now online. Issues available in PDF format.