February 16th, 2009


Worldcon: A Path Forward?

First seen in Cheryl's twitter feed and then on her blog: Steve Davidson's thoughts on Worldcon, which make fascinating reading. The contrast of Worldcon with the old monopoly version of AT&T is very interesting. Whether all of the things he proposes are practical or not is a different question. I hope it gets people thinking about why we're doing the things we're doing.

I'm not the only one who thinks that Worldcon committees have got to figure out some way to do joint marketing even if the marketing doesn't seem to have any direct effect upon their own Worldcon. That's pretty difficult, but we did manage to find a way for Worldcons to do revenue-sharing with each other. Any serious joint-marketing effort will probably need the equivalent of Noreascon Three to get started. (N3 jump-started Pass Along Funds back in 1990 by donating money to its successors even though it received no money from its predecessors, in an act of generosity and an interest in Worldcons as an whole even though it was against MCFI's narrow self-interest.)

Incidentally, if Worldcon attendance declines much further, the convention will get cheaper because we'll have shrunk back into hotel space and won't need to rent convention centers anymore. OTOH, if the price went down that dramatically (and it would), the demand might cause it to thoroughly overload that hotel-based facility.

Ancient Comments, Worldcon Budgets

Commenting on this message about Worldcon budgeting led me to reference a message I wrote in 2006 about Where Does Worldcon's Money Go that includes graphs of the income and expenses by major category for ConJose. I'm glad I went back and revisited the thread, because I discovered a long-buried screened comment (I screen anonymous posts) that I should have cleared at the time but must have overlooked.

As I said here, a generic Worldcon budget model is maddeningly difficult to set up, on account of trying to figure out where to classify things. Should your theoretical model charge Art Show and Dealer's Room for their "share" of the exhibit hall space and decorating expenses? Practical working budgets usually don't because it's too much of a pain in the neck to administer, but if what you're trying to do is figure out how much each of your desired functions' avoidable costs is, maybe you need to do this.

Not that I'm advocating dropping Art Show, Dealers, or Exhibits, but you also have to realize that they aren't free other than once you've decided to take the large plunge of renting the space, they have relatively small additional costs associated with them like art flats, exhibit cases, and overhead hanging signs. For ConJose, those costs (which aren't really variable) amounted to less than $7/attendee.