Sunday, March 21, 2004

You collect what?

I collect first and premiere issues of magazines and journals. If you want to know if there is confidence in the economy, just take a look at what is appearing on the news stands in 2004. I've purchased about seven new magazines since December, and that's without trying. That means venture capital. That means investors. That means advertisers. That means jobs. That means consumers willing to buy. That means a crazy exuberance and hope in the future. And that's what I love about a new journal.

I probably started this hobby with a spin-off in the 1970s of Library Journal, but my collection isn't exactly tidy and is double stacked in limited space, so when I find it I'll let you know. Previews?

I have certain "rules" for collecting, which I often violate. I mean, who cares? I'm the team, the coach and the audience. But for the most part I collect what is available on news stands--available to the general public. I don't seek them out in yard sales, attics, or used-book stores. Having said that, I did find a bound volume one of Atlantic Monthly at a yard sale for $2.00 and couldn't resist.

It breaks my heart to find a Vol.1 no.2 on a news stand, but only once have I written to request a first issue (and never heard from the publisher). I don't collect "Special Issues," even though occasionally a publisher will develop one that is successful into a regular magazine. I don't collect porn, and tend to avoid those that appear to be just catalogs with occasional articles, even though I know that is a fine line, with advertising being the reason magazines exist.

The reasons people give for starting a new journal are wonderful, and that will probably end up being my focus, rather than ISSN or editor or publisher or cost. For instance, I have the "Preview Issue" of Martha Stewart Living, Winter 1990, published in the fall of 1989 for the coming holiday season. She quotes Samuel Johnson, the famous 18th century writer:
For at the end of the day, no matter who we are or what we do, we want to go home. Our philosophy was nicely stated by Samuel Johnson a couple of hundred years ago: "To be happy at home is the ultimate result of all ambition."
The issue is filled with wonderful recipes, projects, and decorating ideas. I don't think she ever changed her plan (I also don't think she is guilty, but that's another blog). The pages are drying out a bit, so I have to be careful when I open to the stencils of stars and moon to be carefully removed to spray paint a table cloth. I smile when I see the photo of the golden threads of spun sugar on cups made of brandy snaps holding black currant icecream topped with caramel syrup. Ah, Martha, nobody does it like you!