Oxford American update

Marc Smirnoff’s Oxford American (although, it’s usually called John Grisham’s OA) is a great magazine. I am sorry to say that it appears to be close to it’s end as I received this broadcast e-mail from Marc (via John Reed) regarding its status. I hope a way can be found to keep it alive.

Dear Folks

It is with profound regret that I write to tell you that The Oxford
American magazine has two weeks to find new ownership. If we fail
at that, the magazine will shut down.

As Jeeves told Wooster, where there’s life there’s hope, so we are still
not giving up on finding investors or buyers who want to see The OA
continue. Nonethelesss the dire possibilities have to be acknowledged (I

Perhaps you can imagine some of the thoughts and emotions zapping around
inside us right now. Well, there are a lot.

One major disappointment I have is that, editorially, I think The OA has
just turned a corner; our fall issue and our Movie isue–the latter being
our most recent–showed off reinvigorated skills and energy and daring that
I think portended a new and better and provocative future. (In fact, I
would go far as to say that I think the Movie issue was the best issue we
ever released.)

What else makes me sad: the possibility of never being able to work again
with the best staff I’ve ever worked with (the current one); the
possibility of not being able to pass along to our extremely passionate and
devoted readership a magazine that, at its best, was eloquent and
meaningful and anything but ordinary or crass.

I don’t mean to sound arrogant. I am well aware that The OA has flaws
(possibly this has something to do with the editor having flaws), but I
will always be convinced that The OA has something that most magazines on
the newsstand don’t: a spirit–and one that allowed our readers to get
close to the magazine. And they did! By the gummy, they did! and we love
them for that.

One thing I should mention is that the failure here is mine. John Grisham,
who has been funding this magazine since 1994, has put in more money then
he ever expected or agreed to put in. Over the years I made numerous
financial promises to him that I failed to keep. But still he forgave and
kept on.

The OA has come close to dying many times before, but always John bailed us
out. But after ten years of this, something had to be done. In July of 2001
he and I agreed that it was time for The OA to stand on its own (that’s
when we decided to turn into a quarterly), which meant we had to start
breaking even (for the first time in our history). And actually we began
doing that. Our Music issue was a modest financial success. And the
following issue, which came out in the fall, was even more successful. But
then came Sept. 11, and one minor aftereffect was that our advertising
revenue severely decreased.

Our Movie issue–which we needed to be as popular with advertisers as our
Music issue–was, by advertising standards, a flop–and it didn’t bring in
enough subscribers to cover for those losses. But we went ahead and put
together our Spring issue. And that’s an issue that we love and wish we
could share with you, but it’s stuck at the printer. We simply don’t have
the money to get it printed.

To all of you who have believed in us and have helped us in any number of
sly and quiet and generous ways we thank you with all our hearts.

Most Sincerely,

Marc Smirnoff
On behalf of everyone here at The Oxford American

P.S. I am writing this note quickly. Because we are not giving up yet, we
are running around like madmen trying to save ourselves. I hope to send
along another note when we know our fate.

  • lcreekmo

    This is sad news on several levels. As a subscriber to OA since the end of their first year, I’ve been a fan for a long time. They were doing some great literary work down there and an excellent job of exploring the rapidly changing South.
    As you might imagine, I was quite fearful when Grisham became the primary investor, but glad to see the magazine continue, I kept reading and was pleasantly surprised. His generosity enabled OA to keep growing, literature-wise, and gave readers like me a moratorium.
    From the email you got [why don’t they have MY email…another issue entirely] it sounds like, sadly, the end has come.
    From a personal perspective, ack, I feel their pain.
    Sad, sad, sad.

  • Rex Hammock

    Why do they have my address? I guess it’s because I gave them a plug in Folio: Magazine when asked what my favorite magazine was.