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The scoop on the American Jewish Yearbook

I have heard that several contributors to the American Jewish Yearbook — the annual publication of the American Jewish Committee that essentially recaps the year’s major Jewish developments, provides a survey of the Jewish nonprofit landscape and supplies plent of helpful data — were told to hold off on their assignments for the 2009 edition.

Though the 2008 edition was just published in December, this raised red flags with several that perhaps there would not be a 2009 edition. Well… the good news is that the AJC isn’t ready to wave the white flag on the Yearbook just yet, but officials are contemplating major changes.

The AJC, which has published 108 volumes of the Yearbook, clearly has been looking at ways to cut down the cost of the publication. This year it published the 500-plus page book in soft cover for the first time as opposed to its usual hardbound volume. And now the AJC is apparently contemplating other changes, whether it means shortening the book or publishing it solely online.

“We just came out with the 2008 edition and at he beginning of the process for 2009 we are taking another look at the format,” the AJCommittee’s spokesman, Ken Bandler, told me. “But there have been no decisions made on changing the format.”

For now, some contributors have been told to hold off on their normal assignments, but “we will be back to them very soon,” Bandler said.

Any decisions would be made with both function and cost in mind, he added.

“Since the whole world is shifting more to the Internet, should we do a digital version?” he asked. “And we are trying to be responsive to a difficult economic time.”

When asked if the Yearbook made money or lost money each year, he said repeatedly, “We are doing fine.” 

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