Unlike the majority of ornithological journals, British Birds is not the organ of a club or society. With no captive audience, continued publication must depend upon satisfied readers renewing their subscriptions each year. Thus, it is vital to ensure that the journal's contents not only justify its existence by their scientific worth but are also interesting and entertaining. We neither criticise nor envy some other journals, the contents of which are of acknowledged scientific importance, but which are often so specialised that they have limited appeal. Our aim is to maintain variety in British Birds, with numerous features in addition to the main papers, so that, for everyone, every issue contains something of interest.
Receipt of over 1,100 replies to the readership survey questionnaire in the June issue has enabled us to assess the wishes of subscribers. A majority of readers considered that every feature was either 'about right' or should be given more space, but there were marked differences between 'new' subscribers (the one-third who have been readers for only one or two years), those who have taken the journal for three to nine years (another one-third) and old hands often or more years' standing. To take 'Mystery photographs' as an example, 78% of new subscribers like it as it is and 16% want more, while only 4 % want less and a mere 2% would like the feature dropped; in contrast, the percentages among 'old' subscribers are 67% 'same', only 4% 'more', but 12% 'less'