Discon 1 Guide: Money & The Proceedings

[This is Chapter 8 from George Scithers' Con-Committee Chairman's Guide, the story of Discon I, the 1963 Worldcon. Retyped in 2001 by Tim Illingworth, from a copy of the original 1965 publication.]



8.01 To begin with, let's look at the final financial report of the Discon.

Donation from Chicon III 374.16
Memberships & Fees 2194.00
Banquet Sales 2203.25
Auction Sales 1180.52
Ads in Progress Reports & Program Book 285.50
Printing and paper 288.18
Entertainment of Guest of Honor 182.88
Legal Services 245.00
Insurance 71.32
Sales Tax 46.71
Cost & commissions on auction material 445.45
Banquet Costs (442 covers) 2253.52
Hugos 306.58
Telephone 77.80
Costume Ball 76.61
Band 380.00
Projector Rental 74.00
Registration and meeting 178.99
Office Expenses 56.11
Postage 103.26
Donation to Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund 100.00
Taxes on revenues etc. 150.00
Reserved for Final Progress Report 40.00
Reserved for printing of Proceedings 700.00
To Pacificon II 440.02

Discon had about 600 registrants; Chicon III, about 600; Seacon, about 300. But Chicon estimates about 100 non-paying attendees, while we had a dozen or so at our gathering.

8.02 Notes are now in order. The largest single item is always the banquet. Ideally, the income from the banquet and the outgo should be very nearly equal. (The price of a hotel banquet is always so high that you'd be ill advised to try and make a profit; too much chance of killing the banquet altogether.) Since this is such a large item, however, it's easy to see how a small percentage error in a guarantee of tickets to a hotel can ruin a convention, as happened in New York. The next largest item is usually printing and related costs; the Discon achieved its low cost here by doing all the progress reports and the program book on the convention chairman's Ancient and Venerable Multilith, so that the costs cited are for negatives, plates, and paper alone. More typical figures are those for Chicon III (about $800) and Seacon (about $500). Detroit obtained some savings by the use of a mimeographed first Progress Report.

Another highly variable item is the cost of the band. All you can do, as a general thing, is either to have a band or else not. If you do have one, the cost is set by the local Musicians' Union. Another significant figure: the total turnover of money ranges from about $3,400 to $6,500; this is why a competent, reliable, and unquestionably honest treasurer is a m*u*s*t. This amount of money practically dictates another expense, which should be expected to settle down at about $150 a year: the legal expenses. This represents the amount of work performed by the convention's lawyer, in keeping the con committee out of trouble.

8.03 Now, Seattle donated about $1,025 to various Worthy Causes. Chicon III began a new tradition, which the Discon and - hopefully - Pacificon II are continuing, of publishing a Proceedings of the convention. This publication seems to be an ideal disposition of excess money from the convention; first, it benefits the whole membership of the convention, and second, it is an expense which can be changed from year to year to fit the amount of money available, simply by varying the amount over and above membership fee that members will be charged.

In its original concept, the Proceedings would be a continuing, yearly volume. The Proceedings: Chicon III was actually title number two in a series; volume one is a pictorial and verbal recap of all previous worldcons - a book that has already been under research for three years and is now slowly evolving into manuscript form.

The Proceedings: Discon becomes number three in a series, with number one still a good distance in the future.

For The Proceedings: Chicon III, considerable advance work was done to eliminate as many of the potential cost factors as were possible to foresee. It is strongly recommended that your committee, if you wish to see the series continue, also attempt to economize in similar fashion.

For instance, aside from the costs of actual physical manufacture, the single most expensive item is obtaining a transcription of the convention as recorded. In this case, Chicago asked every single program member, wherever possible, to provide a manuscript version of their portion of the program. This resulted in a very significant saving. All that was necessary was to compare the manuscript with the transcription and mark in any deviations from the prepared lecture. Transcribing such a massive thing as thirteen to eighteen hours of continuous lecture is no job for an amateur. Consequently, the services of a professional transcriber are necessary for filling in around the manuscript portions. As in all professions, rates are high when compared with the usual fan publication costs.

Photographs are also an expensive item. To cover most events, Chicago arranged for two photographers, loaded with many rolls of black and white film, to cover the entire convention. Their photographs were augmented with pictures taken by other fans to produce the results you saw last year. Discon failed to make such arrangements (19) {It was another of those Things We Just Didn't Think Of.} but luckily managed to contact J. K. Klein, who filled in the pages single handed. The use of black-and-white film is very important, as the conversion from color to black-and-white for reproduction is pretty expensive. Of course, to print the Proceedings with color pages would be out of the question; color runs over $100 a single page. The use of photographs in the Proceedings, obviously, is to provide a pictorial record as well as a verbal record, and also to break up the monotony of continuous pages of text.

Since, as we've said before, convention committees are not continuing bodies, and the production of the Proceedings entails almost one additional year's work after the convention, it was considered advisable to turn the production of the series over to Advent:Publishers, rather than attempting to hold the committee together for another year. Advent:Publishers handles the composition, the manufacture, and the distribution of the Proceedings (and in the test cases of Chicago and Washington has agreed to underwrite any additional costs necessary over a basic minimum) at actual cost.

Initially, with The Proceedings: Chicon III, the cost estimates were considerably off. The book was offered to all qualified takers at a price of 50¢ per copy. The actual cost to manufacture, without counting postage and wrappings, ran to some 80+¢ per copy. About $350+ was contributed by Advent:Publishers to make the book an actuality, with the hope of recovering this outlay through over-the-counter sales. The Discon, aware of these problems, voted to raise the initial allocation for the manufacture of The Proceedings: Discon and to raise the initial price to $1 per copy (for the membership, that is, and within a given time period). This new price of $1 per copy, including wrapping and postage, insures that the members are getting their copies at just under actual manufacture costs.

At this writing, negotiations with Berkeley are stalled, but investigations of the practicability of producing The Proceedings: Pacificon II are still going on. Watch the news magazines. Even if actual production isn't possible, three consecutive convention committees agree that it's desirable, and seriously suggest your continuation of the series.