This is the year of the “over” at the AAA. A lot of chickens are coming home to roost. My analysis is that it is a bit of a perfect storm. In no particular order:
Long-term contracts for food and beverage at conferences ended making conferences a losing money big time propositions. Issues with the journal production process and the bankruptcy of our publishing house, Edwards, probably did not help on the cost front.
The over reliance on the windfall that was digitalization of the AAA journals and the agreement with EBSCO that resulted in a large revenue windfall was used to subsidize membership fees for ten years by limiting the fee increases to $5 a year (do some math on that one versus the base membership fee of about 275 a decade ago – no where near inflation which would have suggested a wee bit more).
The over ambitious agenda of the AAA leadership around and leading up to the 100th anniversary and a lot of investment in activities that did not have a revenue stream associated with them.
Likely there are more but no time for a forensic audit!
Of the three, I pick the middle one as likely the biggest problem. The digitalization revenues were not split with the section journals, that is, the sections only got print revenues while still being charged with journal production costs! This was an added central bonus that masked the problems for a few more years. However the AAA is not alone in facing this, the CAAA did the exact same thing but on a smaller scale and the chickens came home to roost there two years ago!