Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Change I can admire

My very favorite magazine in the whole wide world, LensWork, just did something unthinkable for a magazine. And cemented itself as my very favorite magazine in the whole wide world for all time.

LensWork, wonder of all wonders, stopped newstand sales entirely.

Starting with the very next issue, you may now only purchase LensWork via subscription, or, if you still want to purchase them one at a time (which is not financially sound), via their virtual newstand.

The editor and publisher, Brooks Jensen, stated that 70% of all magazines produced end up as waste. 70%. Think about that. It's not just the trees that were felled for no reason, it's the ink and the glue necessary to print and bind them. It's the power required to run the printing presses, and the fuel used in the trucks needed to transport them all over the country (never mind all the noxious pollutants belched out by those trucks).

Although LensWork, granted, doesn't have the sort of circulation of most other publications (let's face it, pretty much only fine art photography junkies like me read it), it's still a step in the right direction.

Mr. Jensen explained that the reason magazines overpublish is because ad revenues are dependent on circulation. If you publish your magazine and send millions of copies across the nation, you can charge your advertisers for the millions of eyeballs that are supposedly looking at their ads. Apparently advertisers are unaware of the fact that 70% of those eyeballs don't exist, and the magazines end up in landfills.

I love to learn new things, and firmly believe that education is the first step towards change. Not that learning how the magazine publishing industry operates empowers me to change it, but at least I know more than I did yesterday and my commitment to cut the printed materials flowing through my mailbox has been reinspired.

Most of the catalogs have stopped, as well as the credit card offers. I whittled down my magazine subscriptions to just my two absolute favorites: LensWork and Real Simple. The former feeds my soul and the latter feeds the anal-retentive organizer that lives in my brain. Keeping both quiet is essential to my sanity.

What I haven't been able to figure out is how to stop the free mailers that have ads for the local markets, and the free newspapers that wind up cluttering my driveway. Both don't even make it into the house, landing directly in the recycle bin by the garage door. I think it's pointless to have to pick them up every week just to toss them in the recycle bin, but someone told me once there was no way to stop them.

Hmmmm. I like a challenge.


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