The original title of this article was "Why I Love The New Yorker" (first mention). But Dana, who works with me and knows about my passion for The New Yorker (second mention), called me a suck-up, so I changed it. It really wasn't a shameless plug for The New Yorker (third mention). OK, so the magazine recently comped me a subscription after finding out about the love affair I was having with it.
The New Yorker (final mention, I promise) is great commuter reading for planes and trains because of the length and depth of its articles. It's also a good read for the hair salon or spa, or the beach, for that matter. But even I became concerned when I hugged this year's media issue when it arrived at work. The night before, I had spotted it at the Barnes & Noble in Union Square. I circled the shelf many times, but vowed not to purchase it, knowing that I would soon receive my own copy. It was difficult to resist, but I opted for Real Simple, a worthy replacement.
TNY (code for you-know-what) isn't my only print love affair. My Sundays belong to The New York Times. No matter where my travels take me, off I go in search of the Sunday Times. The folks at Starbucks have actually made my search easier (and I thank them), because if you go early enough, they have a plentiful stack. One weekend I forgot that I was actually in New York and headed to Starbucks to get the paper. I stood in confusion when the barista asked for a measly $3.50, instead of the $5.00 + tax that we non-New Yorkers pay around the country. Out of loyalty, I insisted that she take it.
I am frequently asked, "Kendra, why don't you just get a subscription to the Sunday Times?" While this would be a logical solution, it's not just about accessing the news. It's about slowing down to feed my mind and jump-starting my imagination. The ritual is incomplete without trekking to find the paper, brewing a fresh cup of green tea, and taking a deep breath before settling in to devour the paper.
Some people mistake my passion for the Sunday Times or TNY for an obsessive-compulsive disorder. But I'm not the crazy one. From my point of view, it's everyone else, those who trade in their bedside reading lamp for the latest 30-inch Apple Cinema HD display monitor. I am a full-fledged tactile reader, preferring the feel of newsprint or the crinkle of a glossy page between my fingers to the push of a button or spin of a mouse.
We're a dying breed. According to The Pew Research Center, in 2006, 25 percent of Americans reported reading a newspaper "yesterday," down from 50 percent a decade ago. Today nearly one-third of us regularly get news online. Paid magazine circulation is on the decline as the Internet has risen as entertainment and information medium of choice.
But hear this: While the Internet is convenient, it cannot soothe the soul like a tactile reading experience can. More than half of newspaper readers describe this ritual as "relaxing," compared to only one-third of Internet news readers who feel that way about getting news from online sources (The Pew Research Center, 2006).
Tactile readers everywhere - unite! Spread the love. Give books and magazine subscriptions for gifts this holiday season. Encourage your family, friends, and coworkers to become proud, card-carrying members of the Barnes & Noble and Borders Reward programs. Rally together with the publishers of your favorite magazines and your local newspapers to take this country back, one delicious page at a time.
God bless Jamie Engel and Terese Cunningham of The New Yorker (just one more name-drop for the road) for the comp subscription; Malcolm Gladwell for his intellectual taunting in TNY, which makes me smile on the inside; the staff of The New York Times; and my dad for teaching me that reading is fundamental. Happy Holidays!
Kendra Hatcher is senior vice president, contextual planning, at MediaVest. (firstname.lastname@example.org)