Magazines and newspapers attempt to lure new subscribers by offering either a free subscription for a limited number of weeks or a significantly reduced subscription price. How, they ask, can you refuse to take advantage of this offer?
During the winter when the cold and snow causes some of us to dream of spring and short sleeves —the offers multiply. The days are shorter and the time indoors tends to lengthen and the resolve to spurn the seductive offers of magazines for free or costing "practically nothing" compared to the newsstand price—falters.
That's how I ended up with a plethora of unread magazines. Three arrived within days of one another. The covers screamed at me with enticing stories—how could I refuse to read about corruption at the highest level, how to avoid writer's block, essays on craft by well known writers, the Chinese economy, global warming and several stories depicting the moral decay of our civilization as well as the demise of manners.
At one point, during the dead of winter, I succumbed to an offer of ten weeks of The New York Times
for a mere five dollars a week. Two days after saying "Yes, Yes, I want to take advantage of your generous offer"—how could I refuse when I had learned as a student how to fold the Times so that you read a quarter of a page at a time as you rode the subway—the paper arrived.
Each morning three papers arrived, The Times
, The Wall Street Journal
, and the Boston Globe
. At first I attempted to read all the international news in all three papers. This I thought, especially after reading the editorials in all three papers, gives me a broad perspective.
By the end of the second week I dreaded opening the front door and finding the papers in their gaudy plastic protective bags. I thought about getting up earlier and leaving before the papers arrived. If I didn't peruse the papers I felt a numbing sense of guilt.
Finally —an epiphany. I called the Times
. "I am appreciative of your generous offer," I said, " but please stop delivering the paper." They stopped, but keep emailing me offers to begin again.
I did think that close encounter cured me. I wanted my world back—books to read that allowed me to select my topic, wallow in someone's story, follow an intelligence officer through a treacherous encounter with a foreign spy intent on infiltrating the highest level of our security, being a fly on the wall of an intrepid adventurer, checking out a vegan menu and philosophy, or reading Moby Dick
for the third time.
Then an offer arrived from The Atlantic
—free for a month or was it ten issues? How could I refuse. Now I'm faced with "Letting Go of Aspergers", "Burmese Daze" and "The Aliens Next Door" —‚ as well as the other articles, letters to the editor, wordy advertisements.
Then there are the three other monthly magazines vying for my attention. Perhaps I should give up on another reading of Moby Dick