Have you noticed that insert cards are threatening to take over our magazines? Cards of all shapes and sizes — tear-out cards, pull-out cards, fold-out cards — and the final intruder: the perfume sample cards. I used to love to read magazines, to leaf through the pages of new, slick glossy ones, skimming the pictures and titles with a delicious sense of anticipation and adventure. It was a totally relaxing and enjoyable pursuit, before deciding which article to read first.
I could even be described as a magazine addict. If one falls into my hands or within my gaze, I am seized by an uncontrollable urge to flip through its seductive pages. This can happen anywhere: home, office, airplane, beauty parlor, newsstand. “Lady, are you going to buy that magazine?” I switched from reading cereal boxes at breakfast to children’s magazines at an early age, a sure sign of the developing addiction.
Alas, my wonderful world of magazines — and yours — has now been attacked, encumbered and overrun by insert cards and pages. A veritable obstacle course of stiff paper hurdles has been created to thwart the leisurely pursuit of turning pages, skimming and reading. In the old days, one or two discreet cards were tucked away near the back of an issue, reminding us that renewal time was close or encouraging us to take out an introductory gift subscription. Current proliferation goes far beyond that.
Never mind that the cards are usually perforated and can be removed as one flips along. The cards seem to appear relentlessly and stick right up when the pages are turned. Not only do they destroy the kinesthetic flow, but they also obscure the pages themselves. Sometimes I’m not sure if I’m reading the magazine or the inserts. And as for the full size fold-out pages. Help! A magazine is supposed to go in a certain direction — forward. The fold-out page used to be reserved for particularly impressive and very expensive advertisements or the rare panoramic picture.
Certain editors have chosen to continue the text of an article and the pictures into, over, within or on the back of the fold-out page. On reading an entire issue of one of my favorite travel magazines, I thought that some of the articles were very short and choppy — that is before I discovered there were fold- out pages containing the rest of the articles.
But it is the perfume same that has pushed me over the edge. There it lies, cradled in its diabolically clever fold-out envelope, complete with ‘pulse points’ and instructions for rubbing gently on one’s wrist to “experience the fragrance”. The real rub, of course, is that the entire magazine is already aromatic before I tear off the magic tab. And I want to go on record with the categorical statement that I do not want my magazines to smell. It’s enough of a hassle to avoid perfumed tissues, hair sprays, fabric softeners and other unmentionables without this latest perfumed dimension in our lives.
As a magazine lover ot long standing, I have felt a growing concern over this entire matter of inserts. And after a prolonged period of brooding, I decided to do something about it. I have conducted my own random, completely unscientific survey. Since sound research first measures and investigates the nature of a problem. I systematically tore all the inserts out of all the magazines I could find in our house. Then I counted and classified them. Our family must rank among the Big Time Subscribers. At last count, we receive more than 40 bona fide publications, excluding the catalogues that arrive in full color with tempting wares from Tiffany, Neiman-Marcus and L.L. Bean.
Tearing out all the inserts took exactly 5 hours and fourteen minutes. Not only do we subscribe on a large scale, but I am a hoarder. The grand total of inserts of all shapes, sizes and kinds was 436 and included: Introductory subscriptions, gift subscriptions, subscriptions to other magazines, travel destinations, sweepstakes, books, porcelains, dolls, gourmet foods, model cars, sculpture, computers, and the ubiquitous perfumes. Since my survey was limited to our personal supply of magazines, there are still all the other publications left to be surveyed. Heaven only knows what lurks within the pages of the X-rated best sellers.
Would you like to help? I certainly would appreciate your input and data on this urgent subject. All you have to do is:
1. Collect all your magazines.
2. Tear out all the inserts.
3. Count them and send the total number — not the cards— to me.
I’m planning to send the results as a protest to the editors and publishers of a cross-section of our leading publications. With an insert card, of course, for their response.