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The Importance of Magazines

As someone who is more technologically old fashioned I feel like I need to step up and defend older art forms.

While electronic forms of reading are more eco-friendly there is something to be said about keeping physical magazines. There have been many discussions and studies about the physical handling of magazines (and other printed media) helping one understand the importance of the reading material, and many others about the waste that producing them creates.

But this is not about any of that.

Magazines are transient parts of culture. Cheaply (for the most part) made and easily discarded. The information on them is direct and compelling, offering people a glimpse of what they have never experienced before. Magazines offer children the chance to read materials and discover other things they might find intriguing. They create rabbit holes of interest and enjoyment.

Zines (home made  magazines) have given fans a chance to see their work in print and to share ideas & tales to the outside world. They have allowed the strange, out of the box thinkers a chance to find like minded fellows and realize that they are not alone. Sometimes this will encourage them to be more of themselves and bloom, othertimes it will just keep them from wilting.

Zines can become magazines, as some did back in the early days of the 20th century when science fiction was still in its early stages. Asimov and others have printed them on cheaply made paper, kept hidden behind the bookstore’s counter or on racks in the back.

But like everything, magazines caught the general media’s eye and thus had it’s own heyday. For a span of my lifetime they were everywhere and on every obscure subject. Five different ones on the history of stain glass printed monthly, 20 different ones on sewing printed monthly.  News, gossip, sports and alternative ones printed weekly. All sent to every bookstore in packs of 30. When the new issue came in, the covers of the unsold old ones were ripped off and returned to the publisher for credit. The books themselves were trashed. (later recycled) Never to be seen again.

All hat information lost to time.

If you were lucky the library might have the copy you missed, but they wouldn’t keep them past a year. If you could afford it, you could order back issues from the printer, but even then sometimes you were out of luck.

While out dated, older magazines can offer insights to how people thought in that era. The illustrations and photos can show us things that have been lost to time. And sometimes we can discover stories that have been forgotten, or that have inspired others into greatness.

SO next time when you are out at a bookstore, an old bookshop or a yard sale don’t pass the dusty pile of old magazines by. Give them, and yourself, a chance to shine.

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