I love magazines. Love them! For me, there are few greater pleasures than lounging in a bathtub, reading The New Yorker. We subscribe to other print magazines, too, like The Small Farm Journal and Heirloom Gardner. But I am really bad about impulse purchases of magazines, especially at Tidal Creek. Also, I enjoy a host of local publications including, of course, encore, the StarNews, Wilma, Going Green and The Greater Wilmington Business Journal to name a few.
I used to work for the Greater Wilmington Convention and Visitors Bureau years ago. Part of my job was to read all the local press for tourism industry-related stories. So, really, I am a fan of local media and not just because I write for them.
It is not lost on any small business owner that advertising sales are what drive publications. There is not a day that goes by we don’t have at least two people come into the bookstore and try to sell us some form of advertising. The hopeful advertising sales are not limited to local magazines but also include theatre programs, telephone directories, an assortment of things for the university and community college, the schools, PTA’s, local sports teams, charity events, websites, fund-raisers, issues and awareness-raising events, or a film that would credit us for who knows what. By no means is that an exhaustive list, either—just a partial example.
About once a month, someone walks in and informs us they are launching a new publication and seeking advertising dollars for it. Now, I like real things—tangible things. Part of my resistance to the smartphone world is financial: I just cannot afford one or the amount of money it would take to support it monthly. A big part of it for me is that I don’t really consider the digital world to be real or lasting. Digital photos are enjoyed for a few moments, then when your phone is gone or your platform is out of date, they can’t be rediscovered in a drawer a few years later. Pictures are no longer believable or valuable evidence; Photoshop can so easily and quickly alter images.
I still have my grandparent’s records of Al Jolson, and I still play them on a record player. Can you say that your grandchildren will still be able to play the same downloaded musical recording 80 years from now? Doubtful at best. But talk about value for money—80 years worth of enjoyment from a record that cost less than a buck.
Magazines hold an interesting and special place for many people. Yes, the news weeklies, whether they are national or local, do serve the purposes of directing a cultural conversation and promoting important events. But think about some of the other things print does: It creates a record—a substantial, tangible record. That’s part of why magazines and newspapers reporting on specific historic events are considered to be valuable and collector’s items.
Among my prized possessions is the “Stars and Stripes V-J Day” edition; I know you know what it looks like. It’s the iconic “PEACE” headline six inches tall. We’ve all seen pictures of it. I collect other newspapers and magazines as well, including the announcement of the Kennedy assassination, certain cultural figures I am fascinated by and, of course, one mad scientist who pops up regularly among his numerous innovations with Full Belly.
What does this have to do with Live Local? Quite a bit. If you flip through a theatre program, look at the names on the back of your kids’ sports teams’ shirts, walk through the auction items at a charity gala, or open up encore and Wilma, the majority of the advertising you will see is from small businesses. That’s where the money comes from that makes these quality-of-life enterprises happen.
When we do buy advertising, it’s not at the Super Bowl halftime show; it’s here, with companies that pay for jobs here—graphic designers, printers, editors and, yes, writers. So, the next time you see a thank you in a theatre program, which reads, “Please, support our advertisers, they support us,” think about what that really means for a moment. Then ask yourself if you see an ad for Target, Wal-mart or Amazon.
Money circulates in our local economy to make the things we want to have here possible. If we don’t keep money here to fund those things, we will lose them. But we live in such a disposable age, I wonder if most people will even notice?
I like reading encore in print. To be honest I look forward to it every Wednesday morning. I like finding something real in my mailbox when one of our magazine subscriptions arrives. I like having copies to frame. I like the crossword puzzle in pen. Most specifically, I like media that connects with something important to me. By reading our local media widely, I try to stay fairly well-informed about our community—that’s a tall order because there is just so much occurring. So much is supported by those magazines and small businesses. It’s a strange but necessary relationship.
In spite of the multitude of websites and online reviews available, the majority of the tourists and the new residents we see still pick up the hard copy magazines and papers from the stands to learn about our community and what is available to them here.
Advertising, small business, physical publishing and a community that flourishes—what a lucky place to live!