Don't Talk To Me About Life

The word magazine comes from an Arabic word meaning a storehouse. It has, in fact, been used for years in English with just that meaning, frequently in military or naval contexts. A related use is the magazine of a gun or a camera, an object in which bullets or film has been stored. You can see how the use of the word for a periodical came about: a number of things can be stored on the pages. Nowadays, you don’t need paper or ink, since there are newsmagazine shows and online magazines.

A magazine can also be defined as something which is honking heavy when packed a hundred or so to a box. You will not find this in Wikipedia, friends: it’s a Blogsy exclusive.

See, nowadays the vast majority of magazines clinging to life in an online world concentrate heavily on pictures. Pictures print more beautifully on a slick paper known in the trade as clay-based paper. The clay in the paper is what gives it its sheen. And its weight.

This last ten days or so, we have been given a whole lot of clay, frequently in great big boxes. This kind of contravenes two basic rules of our little Book Fair, tapioca tartare. One: if the three of you can barely lift it, what do you think I can do with it? (Mind your manners, friend: I heard that.) And two: we really don’t sell many magazines.

We do put out just about any comic book, and any magazine over a century old ought to find a buyer somewhere. But that stack of health and diet magazines you were going to get around to clipping articles from for your daughter-in-law really could go into the recycling bin. (Especially if you’ve already clipped the articles and are sending me the leftovers. Anyhow, don’t buy any more: I just saw your daughter-in-law at Dunkin Donuts. She wasn’t there for the coffee.)

Yes, the New Yorker has lots of fine stuff in it. That’s why people stack them up intending to read them someday. Yes, your Reader’s Digests are in fine condition. No, I’m not arguing that YOUR National Geographics are any worse than anybody else’s National Geographics. There are too many of these things in the Metropolitan Area, Twinkie Chowder: I can’t make room for them at the Book Fair without adding another wing to the library. (The same goes for most of your back issues of People magazine, though I do flip through the Celebrities With Cellulite special editions before throwing them away.)

Yes, I will take those special issues on September 11 or the death of Princess Di you’ve been hoarding. (I have two BOXES full of this stuff so far this year, but as me dear old mother always told me, “Some idiot will buy it. I did.”) But, um, that special 25th anniversary issue of Road & Track is not going to make enough money for me to build that library wing.

I do take old Playboys, because they are Collectible. They collect in the vault because people don’t buy them, but I’m sure I will one day meet a Barbi Benton collector who will pay for her centerfolds. (Anyway, there are cartoons. Any magazine with enough cartoons gets a…no, no, wait! PLEASE don’t send me those six boxes of Saturday Review! Great cartoons, but it was another weekly magazine people planned to read and never got around to.)

We like history magazines and art magazines and some, though not all, architectural magazines. Magazines dedicated to a single craft—quilting, rubber stamping, making Halloween spiders out of old twist ties—have a chance. Even those, however, we prefer in boxes of reasonable size.

Oh, and, um, I hate to make life difficult, but there is one other rule. I understand, really I do, but so will your recycler. We just got some reasonable size boxes of very attractive and collectible magazines, all in sharp readable shape because the previous owner set them aside to read and never got around to them. She, er, set them in the basement in a house well below the waterline.

If you have twenty magazines in a box but when you pick up one, you pick up all twenty, give it to some other worthy charity. I do not have a category for magazines which are mutating into something else.

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