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Liberty To Not Kill Trees


The great Liberty magazine, edited by R.W. Bradford from 1987 to 2005 and since then by Stephen Cox, has decided to abandon paper and become a completely online journal. This is a harbinger of things to come, as the publishing world adapts to the advent of the Internet and digital information. My own journal, Libertarian Papers, was founded in 2009 as an online journal; and, perhaps presaging things to come, Liberty‘s entire archive was recently put online on Mises.org. Cox himself, a brilliant writer, is also the heroic co-editor (with the brilliant Paul Cantor) of the critically acclaimed Literature and the Economics of Liberty: Spontaneous Order in Culture–published in free online epub and pdf format by the Mises Institute. The November 2010 issue contains the following editorial:

From the Editor

I want to make an announcement about an important change in Liberty. After our next issue — December 2010 — Liberty will cease to be a print journal. Thereafter it will appear online, in a free, fully revised website that will carry features, reviews, reflections, comments from readers, and a complete archive of all the issues we have published since our founding in 1987.

This is a big change, and it brings both happy and unhappy thoughts. Unhappy, because we all value the printed word and the familiar appearance of Liberty. Happy, because online publication will enable our authors’ contributions to appear more frequently, and closer to the events on which they comment. And I predict that an online site will bring us more readers.

My thoughts right now, however, are with the people who read and support Liberty today. One of the great things about editing Liberty is the opportunity to meet its readers. They are great people – and I don’t even mind it when they yell at me. So I want all our readers to know why we’re making the transition from print to online publishing.

One reason is that these are bad financial times, and especially bad for print publications. Like every other intellectual journal in the country, we lose money. Actually, we lose a lot less than most, because we have a tiny staff and we are very careful about what we spend. But unlike many other intellectual journals, we are not sponsored by a large institution. This is good, because we have retained our independence, or what some have called our eccentricity or “quirkiness.” But it means that if we continue in print publication, we will have to stop in the easily foreseeable future. Online publication will allow us to continue indefinitely.

A second reason for the transition is the challenge that print publication presents to our very small and very busy staff. Some of its members have been with Liberty from the start, 23 years ago. But producing a print journal demands a tremendous commitment of time, and some of us find that this commitment has become impossible to sustain.

A third reason is simply that online publication appears to be the way to interest more readers. I myself spend large amounts of time reading news and commentary online, and much of what I read is very good. Our founder, R.W. Bradford, often spoke of the possibility that the day of online publication had come for virtually all intellectual journals. I think he would have wanted to see Liberty’s tradition continue in a form that is immediately accessible to everyone, throughout the world.

So our next print issue will be our last — in that form. We will, of course, send refunds for the unused portions of subscriptions. (Please don’t think you need to write and ask us about that!) In our next issue, I’ll tell you more about our new online way of publishing.

But again, the important person is you. You’ve supported Liberty with your subscriptions, your donations, your praise, your criticism, and your friendship always. I hope you will continue to support us as we change our way of coming to your home.

For Liberty,

Stephen Cox

I think this is an exciting development and wish them well!

Stephan Kinsella is an attorney in Houston, director of the Center for the Study of Innovative Freedom, and editor of Libertarian Papers.

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