Thursday, January 13, 2011


As I mentioned a while back, I'm letting most of my magazine subscriptions expire as a way of saving money.  At one time or another I've subscribed to a lot of different magazines.  One of the strangest questions I've gotten during a job interview - and I believe this was after the formal interview was over, though of course the evaluation process was still going on at this point - was "What magazines do you subscribe to?"  The gut reaction to this was "That's none of your goddamn business," but I cheerfully discussed Sky & Telescope, Astronomy, Newsweek, and MAD, and expressed regret that I had had to cancel New Scientist a few years earlier.  Of course, these magazines told the interviewers a lot about me - particularly Newsweek, which probably pegged me as a hippie commie liberal.  (Had I said I subscribed to New Republic, which would not have been true, that would have told the interviewers something else entirely.)

During the years that I subscribed to Astronomy and Sky & Telescope I had a long-range plan in mind.  I saved every copy of these two magazines, full of fascinating pictures and articles and breaking news and information specific to the publication month.  I would one day get a sturdy rack of some type and sort these magazines into twelve piles, one for each month.  The October 1998 Astronomy would be in the same pile as the October 2005 Sky & Telescope.   The sky for the month of October would be explored in detail by the collective action of the writers and editors for two magazines over the course of many years.

Being unemployed, I suddenly have found new opportunities to buy things.  Ace Hardware had a sale on Gorilla Rack shelves last week:  normally $69.97, they were on sale for $30.  I have a Gorilla Rack in my mom's basement that I assembled as a storage rack back in 1996 or so.  Despite having the occasional bottle of shampoo leak all over it, it is still in great shape, and has never given me cause for worry.I picked up two sets of shelves for myself and one for my mom.

I haven't put together these racks yet.  That's an activity I'm reserving for a specific day in the future.  But I did have a chance to look over the stacks and stacks of magazines that will go on these shelves, and...

...damn, I have a lot of magazines.

No, this isn't a hoarding issue.  These items were saved for a specific reason, for a specific purpose.  Newsweek routinely gets recycled, at least whenever I get around to it.  But just looking at the sheer number of magazines I have - including not just these, but MAD and New Scientist as well - and thinking of all the others that I have discarded over the years, and thinking about the cover prices, and even shaving off 40% to 50% to account for subscription savings, the total cash equivalent of all these magazines is simply staggering.

Was this money well spent?  Every action and decision I have ever made in my life has brought me to this precise moment in space and time, so an argument can be made that all of these magazines have helped lead to me being unemployed a few weeks before my forty-third birthday.  Yet at the time I believed that every one of these magazines was worth the money.  For information, for education, and if I can continue to derive value from them in the future, then for the investment value, I believe they were worth it.

Still.  There are a hell of a lot of magazines to be shelved.  I hope two Gorilla Racks are sufficient.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I can relate. I have between 1500 and 2000 magic magazines, and hundreds of assorted others.