Last week, the 320-page McSweeney’s Panorama hit the streets, bookstores and hipstery apartments in San Francisco to much fanfare among newsy folk and literary types. The one-time-only product sold out its initial run immediately, which seems to augur well for the newspaper industry — until you do the math:
The Panorama‘s 23,000 issues cost just under $200,000 to print, including $80,000 for editorial expenses. (Yes, printing costs are exorbitant.) Subtract about $40,000 to pay the 218 contributors a below-market price for their work, lop off another $15,000 for illustrations, and you’re left with maybe $25,000 to feed, clothe and house seven full-time staffers for nine months.
Eggers pinky-sweared his project would demonstrate that “if you rework the newspaper model a bit, it can not only survive, but actually thrive.” But if this is the 360-degree view of print journalism afforded by the Panorama, the skies sure look cloudy.