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Sales close the books for 2012 Makio

Remnants of student organizations gathering on the Oval, Buckeye fans jumping into Mirror Lake on a frosty night, swaying together in Ohio Stadium and the Nuthouse singing “Carmen Ohio,” settle between two hard covers on glossy black and white pages among a score of other memories from a single year on Ohio State’s campus. Since the 1880’s, the top cover read “Makio,” which means magic mirror in Japanese. It is OSU’s student yearbook.

Students and university affiliates won’t have the opportunity to open the top cover and flag through nearly 300 polished pages filled with recollections from the 2011-2012 school year though.

The Makio recently announced it won’t be producing a yearbook this year due to a lack of student interest and funding, said Kurtis Foriska, previous The Makio advisor and director of strategic marketing and development for the Ohio Union and Recreational Sports.

Foriska attributed the lack in funding to the down economy creating a lapse in advertising the past two years. The yearbook “relies heavily on advertisers,” he said. It also makes revenue from its relationship with a photography studio used for senior portraits and from yearbook sales, which have been on a “steady decline.”

“We don’t have the sales to generate a book. It doesn’t mean that there won’t be one in the future. It’s just, we’re saying for next year, it’s not feasible,” Foriska said.

The Makio experienced a halt in production between 1994 and 2000 due to a decrease in yearbook sales. Eric Busch, assistant vice president of Student Affairs during the hiatus, was in charge of The Makio’s finances.

“The basic problem was sales of the yearbook were not adequate to cover the cost of production,” Busch said in an email.

In 2010, The Lantern business office was signed onto a one-year deal to manage advertising sales for The Makio.

The Makio tries to break even in sales and production costs, Foriska said. Annual revenues for the yearbook are cycled for production costs the following year and equipment renewal. Past editions of the yearbook are sold as an additional form of revenue. Editions published prior to 2000 are sold at a set $35 and editions since 2000 cost $55.

The Makio overcame its hiatus in 2000 under the leadership of two undergraduate students who worked with the Office of Student Affairs to revive the yearbook. The office assigned Heather McGinnis as The Makio’s adviser when she was hired as Coordinator of Student Involvement at the time.

“At the time I worked with The Makio, yearbooks served a historical, archival purpose,” McGinnis said in an email.

Foriska and a few Big Ten yearbook editors agree on yearbooks serving as an archival piece.

Gregory Lehner, editor-in-chief of University of Wisconsin’s “Badger Yearbook,” referring to yearbooks as a “time capsule.”

“It’s like buying a part of history and it holds your best memories from college,” Lehner said.

With seven out of the 12 Big Ten universities still producing yearbooks, many face similar challenges in production to The Makio’s, one being a lack of student awareness that a yearbook even exists on a largely-populated campus.

Jessica Uzar, editor-in-chief of Penn State University’s yearbook, “La Vie,” said about 90 percent of students are unaware of Penn State having a yearbook, despite “La Vie” having been established since 1889.

Foriska said that given OSU’s big student population, The Makio has also experienced difficulties in making students aware of its existence.

Vicari Vollmar, editor-in-chief of Michigan State University’s yearbook, “Red Cedar Log,” said it is a disappointment seeing universities cut yearbook programs.

“By cutting programs, they’re taking away from students’ career fields (because yearbooks are) beneficial to students who obtain and work on the book — teaching students life and job skills and financial aspects,” Vollmar said.

“Red Cedar Log” hasn’t experienced the same production challenges other Big Ten Universities have faced though. It maintains a constant student interest because it’s offered free to MSU students through student taxes, similar to OSU’s student activity fees withdrawn from students’ tuition, Vollmar said.

Foriska said social media platforms such as Facebook and Flickr offer an option for archiving information, but because technology is constantly evolving, there’s the risk of whether such technologies will be compatible in the future. He recalled inserting floppy disks in computers, having shoeboxes of photos and using a flip phone while he was an undergraduate student just 10 years ago.

“While [technology] may change, this is going to stay the same forever, (a book) is not bound by technology,” Foriska said.

Lehner said that the cost of the book is minimal compared to the memories the book preserves.

“You spend nearly $3,000 in your time here in college buying textbooks, so why not spend $50 on a book you actually get to keep?” Lehner said.

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