Yearbook Economics

Traditional paper yearbooks fight to stay relevant in a growing online social networking world as rising costs and vast limitations compete directly with teenager interest in keeping in touch online, posting photos and messages on Facebook or MySpace for free.

Parents might remember them as an end-of-year staple, but today paper yearbooks jockey for position with other student must-haves like gas, prom tickets and the latest electronic gadgets. Students have a lot of choices and many of them focus on instant gratification. In twenty years, it might be fun to drag out a yearbook and reminisce of times spent with friends in high school, but a video game or cell phone might be more exciting right now.

In addition to battles with short-term rewards, economics are at play with determining the fate of the yearbook. Production costs have been steadily increasing over past years and yearbook programs are being forced to reduce page count/color to cover budget gaps. Additionally, economic conditions and greater uncertainty have forced businesses to abandon the practice of purchasing ads in local school yearbooks, eliminating valuable cost subsidies. The net result is a rise in student purchasing price and a steady decline in yearbook revenue, which inevitably leads to permanent closure.

Yearbook teams continue to do whatever it takes to try to keep the tradition alive and boost fundraising revenue. Many times, this desire might call upon students to purchase early by offering a reduced price or alternatively adding a premium onto late purchasers. However, in the end more and more high schools fall victim to escalating production costs, rising purchase prices and declining interest, which cripple fundraising efforts if not ultimately leading to the end of a time-honored tradition.

Fundraising Fact Check:

At wholesale, electronic yearbooks are about 35% less expensive to manufacture than comparable paper yearbooks, which means more profit for fundraisers. However, in addition to raising more money per order, fundraisers also benefit from the opportunity to sell more yearbooks to more students because of the lower list price.

Depending on price sensitivity and fundraising goals, electronic yearbooks can sell for $40 per copy in the beginning of the school year and then cost $60 or more by year’s end – an increasing scale commonly used to maximize fundraising potential. Considering a wholesale price of $25, fundraisers would earn $15 per order at the beginning of the year and $35 per order at year’s end. Furthermore, our standard practice of offering free and unconditional use of the publishing system guarantees zero additional OI expenses during the production phase, which results in maximum fundraising revenue.

Lastly, while most paper yearbook publishers require a final count long before closing, electronic yearbooks can be ordered up until the last day of production without penalty.

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