Friday, August 21, 2009

Continued From...

I've been pondering a blog entry about this for awhile. Finally, I ran across a sample that was simply more than I could resist.

Over the years I have subscribed to a few different magazines. Wired, Popular Woodworking, Family Handyman, Portfolio, and Popular Mechanics are what come to mind. I find I can generally keep up with about two simultaneous subscriptions. Three is too many and I end up with a backlog of severely outdated periodicals, which defeats the purpose.

At some point I caught myself obsessing about "continued on" page numbers. I think it finds its roots in too many articles that sent me to the wrong page near the back of the magazine, leaving me to search out the article's ending by thumbing through adjacent pages until I found it. The now-defunct business magazine Portfolio annoyed me to no end. It wasn't uncommon to find the endings to 8-10 articles all cobbled together in the back of the magazine. It got to the point where I didn't even go to the articles' endings straightaway, but simply read through in order and then, if the first part of an article had interested me enough that I still remembered it, I would brush up and read the ending when I got to it. I found myself skipping most of the endings.

Family Handyman is a relatively new magazine to me. It seems like it is trying to be a real magazine, when really it's just a wooden puppet. It will print a "continued on page..." at the bottom of a column. Then the next numbered page is an advertisement or a full-page photograph. And the article resumes immediately thereafter. I find that amusing, as though the editor thinks I won't know that I need to turn the page in order to continue reading. 

As I was gearing up to bash Family Handyman, I discovered a much more severe offense in the final issue of Condé Nast's Portfolio. The publication went out of business with its May 2009 issue. 

In an article about philanthropist Jeffrey Sachs, Portfolio, in my mind, paid it's readers a heavy insult. See the composite image I prepared below. The miniature page in the upper-left is page 105, and in the lower-right is 106. Click to enlarge.

These are two adjacent pages. If for some reason I had thought the article ended on page 105, I would immediately discover otherwise as soon as I turned the page to start the next. The very next text is the continuation from the previous page. Are readers so stupid? The publisher? Frankly, I'm surprised I ever got to page 105, since the requisite instruction at the bottom of 103 telling me to turn the page was missing.

No wonder they went out of business.

It's just as well, anyway. While I found the subjects of their articles quite interesting, there was always a heavy liberal bias in Portfolio that I quickly grew tired of. 

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