Don’t be fooled by the playful beauty of our covers or the carefully crafted layout and typeface on pages within. The changes that have come to the Kenyon Review over the past year are more than skin deep. Yes, the redesign has been substantial, and responses to our new look have been overwhelmingly positive (the covers have won an Award of Excellence from the University and College Designers Association), as have those to our slimmer bimonthly version of the journal replacing the former quarterly behemoth.
The redesign is only one outcome, however, of a profound series of conversations over the past several years reconsidering the mission, the ambition, the breadth of all the Kenyon Review does and aspires to do. The KR staff, trustees, consultants, and others have been engaged.
Another important step came in our last issue, Jan/Feb 2016, when we unveiled an attractive new app at kenyonreview.org along with a digital version of the print Kenyon Review, after four years of being leashed by a contract with Amazon. What we publish in KROnline and our other electronic publications is now available on the app as well—readers can enjoy all of KR’s literary offerings in one place.
As a matter of fact, the brilliant set of international poetry gathered by David Baker in this very issue of the Kenyon Review is also simultaneously available at KROnline—the first crossover we’ve embraced under the new regimen. The reason, naturally enough, is that a significant part of our online audience is international, lacking easy access to the print journal. We surely want them to enjoy this special feature.
When Sergei Lobanov-Rostovsky and I first played with the idea of creating an online journal, the impetus was sparked by frustration: with a backlog filled to overflowing and thousands of new stories, poems, and essays flooding across our electronic transom, we were forced to say no to many pieces we longed to bring before our audience. By creating KROnline we essentially doubled what we could offer to the world. (How crazy was that? Publishing essentially two distinct literary journals instead of one, all with the same small staff.)
What didn’t expand initially, naturally enough, was our budget. We might scrounge up enough resources for relatively token payment to our online authors. Payments to authors in print, however, remained unchanged: relatively more munificent, though still modest.
Early in the summer of 2015, we gathered KR’s Excelsior of Editors for a retreat in Gambier—a face-to-face conversation we pursue every couple of years. This time our talk fit into the larger consideration of the future mentioned above. And as usual, creative suggestions abounded. But the single point of agreement shared unanimously by all our editors was that the differential in author payments had to cease. Not only was it inherently unfair, it sent precisely the wrong signal about the way we value what we publish digitally.
The complications of such a dramatic shift in our contracts turned out to be more, well, complicated, than first envisioned. Nevertheless, I am delighted to announce that as of this volume year all of our authors who signed contracts after September 25, 2015, will be paid according to the same formula. Those who appear in print will receive a little bit less than before; those on our website somewhat more. But this is no small achievement or symbol. Our budget for author payments is one area we’ve fought to increase over the years, and we will continue to do so. Over time, we intend that all of those marvelously talented writers who offer their treasures to the world through KR’s pages and electrons will receive an honorarium more befitting their labors.
On the Cover
Jon McNaught is a comic artist and illustrator based in Bristol, UK. He has published three comic books with Nobrow Press, including the latest, Dockwood, which won the Prix Revelation Award at Angoulême in 2013. He also exhibits prints and original artwork widely (including solo shows in Portland, Paris, and London) and works widely as an illustrator (regular clients include the New York Times, the London Review of Books, and Washington Post).