With this issue of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED the circulation department is inaugurating a new procedure to increase the speed with which we reach one group of our subscribers, those in the northwestern United States and British Columbia. In the future, copies of the magazine bound for this area will be airlifted by a cargo jet from Los Angeles to Seattle, and then mailed from there to Washington and British Columbia addresses for arrival many hours earlier than has been customary.
To insure efficient distribution, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED has long been printed in three different cities in the U.S. About half of our 1,320,000 copies are printed in Chicago, where two presses, each 100 feet long and weighing 200 tons, begin to run at 6 a.m. on Tuesdays for distribution of the magazine, by truck and by train, throughout a region that ranges from the Rio Grande up into the Midwest and Canada. The other half of the job is divided between plants in Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles, for shipment to parts of the Northeast and all of the West Coast, respectively.
East Coast distribution presents no insurmountable problems, but transportation to the Pacific Northwest has become increasingly difficult. Los Angeles is no farther from the state of Washington than Chicago is from Montana but, while train service west out of Chicago is still fine, the service north from Los Angeles has dwindled to a trickle, the trickle being essentially Southern Pacific's No. 12 out of Oakland, Calif., one of only two trains that leave daily for the Northwest. When this magazine began there were several trains a day leaving Los Angeles for points north, and SPORTS ILLUSTRATED was shipped out on some of the fastest and most luxurious rolling stock ever built—trains equipped with elegant Pullman sleepers and telephone service. They had dining cars that were fancifully named and exquisitely appointed. Copies of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED arrived not only in style but quickly. Now curtailment of such service has led to the decision to fly the magazine north, assuring its prompt arrival.
The percentage of our subscribers living in Washington and British Columbia is relatively small, and the airlift is expensive. But Time Inc. has a continuing concern with the fastest possible delivery of its magazines. We have always worked closely with the postal authorities and were among the first to convert all mailing labels to include ZIP codes for more efficient handling. The company is well represented at the annual Post Office convention, where we confer with postmasters from Medicine Bow, Wyo. and Pea Ridge, Ark. about ways to improve our traffic system.
There isn't much use in trying to publish a good magazine unless you make a corresponding effort to put it quickly into the hands of the people who want to read it. The Northwest airlift is simply the latest move in our continuing effort to streamline delivery.