In 2006, the Auburn Villager was founded to fill a need for hyperlocal, community-based news in Auburn, with a model fashioned from the award-winning Auburn Bulletin that served this community, in one form or another, for decades. From 2006 until now, the Villager has resisted raising its subscription rates, even as revenue from advertising plummeted and many abandoned print journalism for the online consumption of news.
The Villager also resisted increasing the price of a subscription over the years when the United States Postal Service raised its postage rates for delivery and printing companies increased their fees as the price of goods and materials rose.
The Villager bore the brunt of those increases, declining to pass the increased cost on to our subscribers. Alas, that is not the case anymore, as a recent increase in postage coupled with an industry-wide decline in ad revenue has made keeping the same subscription rates unsustainable.
For perspective, the recent 6.8 percent increase for first-class postage translates to shipping costs of 64 cents per issue, or $33.28 a year per print subscription. The $18 we have charged for a yearly in-county subscription isn't coming close to covering the cost of postage anymore.
Unfortunately, The Villager has no choice but to increase subscription rates.
Starting Jan. 1, the cost for a one-year, in-county print subscription will increase from $18 to $35 annually. An online only subscription will increase to $20 a year. An in-county print and online subscription can be bundled for $50.
The cost of an out-of-county print subscription will increase from $36 to $50 a year, with an online bundle set at $65. And the cost of an individual copy of an issue will increase to 75 cents at newsstands around Auburn.
It's our honor to serve the Auburn community and bring important news to your doorstep every week. We hope you will stay with us and help support this important community resource.
In addition to providing the typical coverage of city and school board meetings, the Villager has served as a valuable resource during the pandemic while also breaking stories on a number of fronts this year alone — the new Buc-ee's opening off Exit 50 and, most recently, the planned Target coming to downtown Auburn. Readers have also enjoyed frequent features on those who are making positive impacts in our schools and in our community, in addition to coverage of Auburn University and Auburn High sports.
The Villager is also keeping a close eye on the Biden Administration's Build Back Better Act, which contains a piece of the Local Journalism Sustainability Act, a bipartisan measure that would provide sorely needed funds to small, local news outlets and incentivize the expansion of newsrooms and the critical services they provide to communities across the nation. While the bill seems imperiled, to say the least, many across our industry are hoping the LJSA can be passed soon, either attached to BBBA or as a standalone bill.
Regardless, we could not keep the lights on if it weren't for the support of our readers. I encourage you to renew or subscribe before the New Year to lock in your subscription at the lower rates. You can do so online at www.auburnvillager.com. Or you can call 334-501-0600 to speak to our office manager, Christi Holt.
From all of us here at The Villager, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!