Volume III, No. 3, Spring 1976
It's hard to believe that spring's already here. Where did all the snow and cold go?
Shortly after our return from Christmas vacation, our second IBM Correcting Selectric typewriter arrived. Typing our final copy as deadline time rolled around was always hectic, and the bottleneck of only one good typewriter made it even more so. A second should ease the squeeze.
We have also hired a part-time secretary to help with the typing and circulation. Teresa and Jenny were having to devote their full attention to their departmental jobs, with little or no time for writing. Since writing is what Bittersweet is really about, Pearl Massey will now assist them with part of their chores.
For those of you who don't subscribe, we mailed a survey sheet to our subscribers along with the last issue. We wanted to know about them, what they did or didn't like, and how they felt we could make the magazine a little better. We got a return of a little over 13%, an excellent response to such a survey. However, it shows one more way in which Bittersweet subscribers are special people.
A note about the tabulation: some percentages will total more than 100%, some less. On some questions, many people gave more than one response. For the sake of brevity, single replies to a question were not tabulated. (For instance, only one person listed his occupation as scientist, so a category for scientists was not included in our final tabulation.)
Based on our tabulations, more women read Bittersweet than men--52% are women, 48% men. About 62% of our readers are married, while 35% are single and 3% widowed. Their ages are mostly between 40 and 50, though the groups from 30-40 and 60-70 were not far behind. However, they range in age from 4 to 100.
Surprisingly, over half--57%--of our subscribers live outside the Ozarks, and only 39% were raised here. However, 60% say they have roots--either family or property--located here.
When asked how they learned of Bittersweet, 31% indicated friends, relatives, or staff members. Sixteen per cent said through the library. Reviews and gifts each garnered 6% of our subscriptions, and 4% can be credited to English professors. Three per cent of our subscribers learned of us through Foxfire magazine.
Forty-five per cent have subscribed for three years, 20% for two years, and 35% of our subscribers are recent.
We also asked for an estimate of how many people read our subscriber's copy. Answers (including libraries) ranged from one up to 520, with an average-per-copy of 22. I am sure this figure is high, as libraries have no truly accurate way to measure readership of periodicals.
Apparently more readers are interested in Bittersweet's subject matter than the fact that it is published by young people, while 77% mentioned the former, only 48% mentioned the latter. Many said both.
A fact that didn't surprise us was that a great number of our subscribers are involved in education and related occupations (28% of those replying). The next largest group was librarians, 16%; homemakers, 15%; and retired persons, 14%. An additional 9% were involved in medicine. The other 18% were in fields from bus drivers to mayors to firemen to ministers.
Though most subscribers said they like all our regular features, the dialect column emerged as the most popular, receiving positive responses from 59%. Fifty-seven per cent mentioned recipes; another 57%, superstitions; 56%, editorials; 53%, cures; and 46%, introduction of the staff.
Most readers said they would like to see more of what we're doing. Twenty-three per cent would like to see more how-to stories, and the earlier ways of doing things. Interviews and personality features seem to be popular, as 9% would like to see more of those.
Everyone's tastes vary, as shown when we asked which stories our subscribers especially liked. Ten per cent said everything, 9% mentioned our articles on schools, and another 9% liked interviews. Six per cent agreed that we did a fine feature on mules, while mills, moonshine, baskets, and churches each appealed to 5%. Johnboats, caving, threshing, and blacksmithing all attracted 4%.
Sixty-one per cent of those replying were overly kind, and said they found no weak points in Bittersweet. Slightly over 2.5% though it should be monthly, and the same percentage thought it was sometimes too lengthy. Only 5 people mentioned what I feel to be our biggest problem: proofreading.
These are the results, with the majority of our subscribers seeming satisfied. Thanks for the "vote of confidence!"
FROM THE PENS OF OUR READERS
To the BITTERSWEET staff:
You are all to be commended for the really great job you are doing with the magazine. I pass it on to
my many friends who cannot believe it is a high school publication. My sister-in-law wrote me that
she kept thinking is was a college production. She asked me to tell you that she thought it was
excellent and particularly mentioned the drawings.
Thank you for presenting my recent story so attractively. I feel honored to have been published by you all.
Gladys Welch Miller
Silver Springs, MD
As we approach this nation's bicentennial anniversary, eyes all across the country are looking back to yesterday and our great American heritage. My most sincere thanks go out co you and your staff for preserving a portion of that heritage that I love so much--Ozark customs and folklore. I am a 1966 graduate of Lebanon High School and Mrs. Massey was one of the most innovative instructors in the school system at that time. I can see she is still every bit the genius she was then. Your efforts are truly admirable and I wish you all the best of luck on all projects.
Michael D. Hite,
Laughlin AFB, TX
I can't help but admire the high quality of your publication, as compared to other high school
publications--the grammar, the writing ability of the reporters, the quality of photographs and
printing. But please, never "rest on your laurels." Always strive to make it better than it is, as you
are doing with this questionnaire.
A good word must also be said for your director, who is your mentor--as well as your tormentor--at times. But the greatest talent in the world, without direction and encouragement, is a talent lost.
St. Louis, MO
BITTERSWEET does for the Ozarks what NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC does for the rest of the world. I look forward to receiving the equally.
Ft. Myers Beach, FL
There are so many things to compliment you on--variety, graphics--but a special compliment to your increasingly professional and beautiful photography.
St. Charles, MO
I'm grateful to a dedicated group of young people who are proud of a heritage and are learning to appreciate what they have been entrusted to preserve. Congratulations, BITTERSWEET staff!
The phonograph records just knocked us out. What a really cool idea. Eventually, I suppose you'll
acquire an IBM Compositor, or similar typesetter, and can experiment with different type faces and
broaden your staff's understanding of this part of publishing, but there's nothing wrong with the
typewriter face you now use.Htalbert F. Speer,
Sea Cliff, NY
Copyright © 1981 BITTERSWEET, INC.