Discover more from Can we read?
Important! Running a Can we read? experiment 🧫
Taking risks! Trying things! Why not!
👋 Hello, my dear Can we read? subscriber,
It’s Sarah Miller, that person who pops into your inbox once or twice a week with reviews of children’s books, advice about raising readers, and often a lot of emotional and weather-related commentary, other nonsense, etc.
I’m not normally in touch with you on Fridays, but I’m announcing an experiment:
From today, September 1, until the end of the year, December 31, this newsletter will be donation-based.
This means it will go out to all subscribers, and there will be no paywall.
Let me explain.
💸 There will be no actual “donation” required.
💸 The “donation” is just a paid subscription.
That is: paying for the newsletter will not get you behind any paywall — you won’t get any special access. Everything will be available to everyone.
A paid subscription is the way for you to show support because you’d like to see Can we read? continue. But you don’t have to decide on an amount to donate or remember to make a donation.
In other words: you can “donate” by becoming (or staying) a paid subscriber.
📝 Fine print: Everything in the archives that is currently behind the paywall will stay there, at least for now, so to access all of it, you’ll need to be a paid subscriber. Ditto for requesting personalized booklists from me that address your specific family or circumstances — that’s a perk I will continue to provide only for paid subscribers.
Current paid subscribers: if you decide you don’t want to donate by keeping your paid subscription, you can find directions for canceling here. Thank you for choosing to spend your money on this newsletter until now.
SARAH. Why are you doing this?
I’m doing this because…
1️⃣ My purpose in this world is to serve people. I live that out fully in every area of my life except here.
I don’t know why I was gifted with the ability to write well, but I was, and if I can use that gift to write well about this particular topic — one I’m bonkers-passionate about, that genuinely helps parents, other caregivers, educators, librarians, etc. find excellent children’s books and support their readers — then I don’t want to paywall it. I really don’t. I want it to reach as many people as possible.
2️⃣ I’m curious about whether I can be successful in this way — turn paid subscriptions into a means to show support without it being a requirement for greater/deeper access.
3️⃣ I’ve started asking myself, about everything in my life, “If it can be anything, what do I want it to be?” This was part of my answer for this newsletter.
It really is an experiment.
I love this concept — that I can try something, for an amount of time I determine, without knowing how it will go or if it will work, and just see what happens. There is a lot of freedom in that.
(And it helps to frame it that way, given this is a particularly bizarre time to be doing this — the last four months of the year are essentially the best of Can we read?, where I not only crank out all my regular weekly issues, but also five special editions: Fall, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Winter. Making everything available to everyone during this time and trust-falling into the possibility of donations is either phenomenally stupid or full of astonishing rewards. I always — always — lean toward believing the latter, that my needs will be met, that giving fearlessly is never useless or wasted, that my work in this life is to be of service. Is that risky? Sometimes, maybe even often, yes. See: an experiment.)
My measure of success is a simple pass/fail: if I make the same amount of money or more here, doing it differently, it has worked (pass). If I don’t, it hasn’t (fail).
So at the end of this trial period, I might go back to paywalling some posts and using the free and paid subscription options in the more traditional manner, and I might not. Who knows!
📣 Either way, at the end of the year, I will report back on my findings — if I decide to adopt this model permanently, you will be notified, and if I decide to put up a paywall again, same.
I welcome your feedback and questions in the comments — or, if you’re more comfortable responding directly and privately, just hit reply.
Thank you so much for your continued support of Can we read? and the work I do here. I probably could do it without you, but I absolutely don’t want to. It’s so much more fun with you here 💚