Morpheus, sorry, what variety of nonsense is this now? Watchtower never made much money from publishing in the first place? Good grief. Are you serious? Do I really need to prove this? Here goes.
Watchtower made a ton of money from selling magazines and books (which included pictures of pandas and paradise of course, but it was the book sales that made the money). That's why they didn't tithe their membership or pass collections round the KH. They didn't need to because they made a healthy profit from book and magazine sales. Their lack of collections was a unique selling point they could afford to advertise, precisely because they made enough money from print sales that they didn't need to beg for more.
How do we know? Inside testimony for a start. Another poster quoted a bethel insider who said Watchtower was making millions of dollars a week from magazine sales. Very realistic when you consider the cover price, the circulation numbers, and the low cost of production. How else do we know? Well just look at their activity, it tells you all you need to know. The 1970/80s was the all time boom in WT sales (I'm going to cover this in part 2). Just look at the increase in circulation of the magazines, and the number of books they were promoting in this period. Good quality hardback books: Aid book, Kingdom Interlinear, Insight Books, Revelation book, Live forever book (in small and large size), creation book (ditto), reference Bible, Byington's Bible(!), concordance, Proclaimers book. You name it, they were pumping out good quality books like there was no tomorrow! (In a sense true, because of the "generation" teaching) On top of that they branched out into audiocassettes, videos, calendars, daily text, Braille, and goodness knows what else. Business was absolutely booming and they couldn't release their products fast enough.
Then what happens? In 1990 they stopped charging for the literature and we have seen steady decline ever since. First to go were the hardcover books, replaced by very flimsy paperbacks, calendars gone, concordance gone, Kingdom Interlinear gone, Insight books gone, Byinton Bible gone, magazines cut in size, reduced in frequency. Now we are at the point where they are not even releasing paperback books at the convention any more, but instead telling members to download. Now they are even at the point of reducing language editions of the WT.
Also the history of Watchtower magazine subscription is very instructive. For most of its history Watchtower signed up people for annual subscriptions to the magazine. It's easy to forget now but that was one of the major objectives of the ministry, to get new subscribers. What happened after 1990 when the cover price was dropped? They stopped inviting subscription! In fact pretty soon they phased out subscriptions altogether. Which makes perfect sense when you think about it. If you are making a profit you want as many subscribers as you can possibly get. But if you can't charge for the magazines any more then subscribers who pay little or nothing is the last thing you want!
The reason they produced tons of literature in the 1980s was because it was profitable for them. And the reason they have cut back printing so drastically since then is because it is no longer profitable and is in fact a financial drain. This is so self-evidently the situation that I didn't think it needed to be spelled out.
Watchtower themselves had the naive belief in 1990 that when they stopped charging for the literature the brothers would contribute the same anyway. They were wrong, as their activity since then demonstrates. You are making the same mistake they made when you claim it's not books and magazines, but "hope and a dream" they were selling. In turns out the brothers were paying mainly for the magazines and books, but the message they took as "life's water free" like the old kingdom song says!
Which puts Watchtower in a real tight situation. They told their membership for over 140 years that they would never beg for money. They didn't need to beg for money because they had a healthy income from print sales. But now those sales have dried up. In fact worse than dried up because instead of making a profit their publishing is now a loss making activity. So what do they do now? That's the question.