For all its success, the London Review of Books struggles to make money. It owes its continued existence to the generosity of Wilmers herself, who regularly siphons in cash from a family trust fund. […] The family money means the LRB never has to worry about paying back its loans – in January 2010, the magazine was estimated to be £27m in debt to the trust. And yet it still manages to pay its writers at a base-rate of 30p a word (rising by a considerable margin if the article is longer than average). […] Is it sustainable, I ask the LRB’s publisher, Nicholas Spice? He looks vaguely shocked at the suggestion. “Oh no, it’s not sustainable in financial terms,” he says. Spice has a pleasantly straightforward manner and a faintly military demeanour. He is the kind of man you suspect would be incapable of telling a lie, even though sometimes he probably should. “It loses a lot of money,” he continues cheerfully. “The most important thing is that it has always had very generous support from its shareholders. And we’ve had the same shareholders since 1980, which is very unusual – I should think unprecedented – for a literary publication or arts organisation. The great thing is that we have been able to invest in creating a market for a very good editorial product.”
Once again, an example of how the market will not always provide. I for one am thankful people are willing to “waste” money on a publication like the LRB.