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One Yack is Late; Sales Slow for the Next

It’s her passion for crafting the present for posterity that drove senior Waverly Lynch to become the Yackety Yack’s editor-in-chief in 2011.

Lynch rose to the position in an unusual way: The yearbook’s board had asked the previous editor to step down in October 2011 after that editor failed to complete the 2011 yearbook. When Lynch became the new editor, she assumed the responsibility of finishing one yearbook while also starting the next volume.

“It wouldn’t have been fair to the people who spent $100 on this book to give them something that was not worth that money,” Lynch said. “Just putting the time and giving the love that the yearbook needed to these publications was more of what we wanted to do, because we didn’t want to submit something just to submit it.”

The 2011 yearbook was released this fall, a year later than usual. The staff sold 300 copies at $106 apiece — the financial break-even point.

The 2012 book, priced at $107.75, was sent to the publisher this fall, but so far it has drawn only 20 orders. In October, the staff had not yet started advertising it to students.

While the point of the yearbook is to look back, the business of the yearbook forces the publication to look forward. With low sales in recent years, the future of the oldest publication on campus isn’t so bright.

“The bigger question is will the yearbook still be around?” said Tony Patterson, senior associate director for student life and activities.

A number of universities have experienced declining yearbook sales. In 2010, Jostens, a leading yearbook publisher, estimated that 1,000 institutions published yearbooks, with increasing numbers of universities putting their yearbook online. The University of Virginia’s Corks and Curls ceased publication after 120 years, citing financial difficulty and the lack of student interest in hardbound copies in a Facebook era.

“Between 2008 and 2010 the Yack sold 432, 400 and 300 copies respectively.”

Kelly Young, associate director for the student activities fund office, said that in recent years staff members have cut down publishing expenses and eliminated their stipends in hopes of sustaining the Yack.

But that dedication only goes so far. Future sales ultimately will determine the yearbook’s future.

For Lynch, getting a yearbook in the hands of each and every senior is about more than reaching sales goals. “It’s just a connection and a part of being at Carolina and being on this campus,” she said. “If you’re going to bleed Carolina blue for the rest of your life, then the Yackety Yack is a part of that.”


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