In Praise of Small Magazines

When I saw Sign of the Shovel’s post about her husband’s new book, I realized that it was about time for me to employ a little crass commercialism in support of my own spouse’s venture.

Scott has been the half-owner and editor of Fine Books & Collections for four years now. He started the magazine for the same reason most people start a magazine: The magazine he wanted to read didn’t exist, so he decided to create it himself. Believe it or not, FB&C is the only true, full-color, glossy magazine in the US devoted to the world of rare books. There’s probably a dozen magazines out there about dogs, but if you’re interested in old books, or just about anything unusual and interesting on paper, FB&C is it.

Having watched the running of a magazine, day in and day out, for four years now (Scott runs the entire editorial division out of our house, working with a network of freelancers and designers by e-mail and phone), I can tell you that it’s a labor of love. I also know that most people don’t realize how much one individual subscription (especially one that renews every year!) means to a small or medium-sized magazine. It’s not just the money; it’s also the thought that someone out there cares enough about the subject to want it delivered to their house every month or two. I remember FB&C’s first direct mail campaign, and how excited I was to go to the post office and see that someone in Anchorage, Alaska or Petosky, Michigan had sent in a check just because we’d sent them a brochure bragging about a magazine that, at that point, didn’t even exist yet.

If you are a book lover, or if you know a book lover, or if you just want to buy a subscription for your local library, FB&C will happily take your 25 bucks. (I can almost guarantee you that your online subscription will soon be followed by a cry of, “Hey, Amy! One of your blog readers just subscribed!”)

And if FB&C isn’t for you, I hope that you’ll stop and think about the great little or not-so-little magazines that you pick up from time to time but don’t subscribe to. I bet their subscriptions cost less than a pizza and are much better for you.

There’s something wonderful about magazines: the feel of the paper, the photographs, the great writing, the ease with which you can read them in the bathtub or on the bus…not to mention the heart and soul behind them.

No matter how much time I spend online, I’ll always be a magazine junkie. I long ago stopped counting the number of magazines coming into this house every month. A stack of yet-to-be-read magazines on the nightstand is a little luxury that I couldn’t live without. What about you?