Over the years I have subscribed to many magazines, in the probably misguided hope that I would somehow become better informed as a result. What really happened is that I rarely did more than peruse their tables of contents and then quickly found myself surrounded by stacks of magazines that had to be eventually discarded or given away. After subscribing to the usual suspects like National Geographic (I liked the maps),Rolling Stone (I read the record reviews), Entertainment Weekly (I must confess that I did read this cover to cover, pop culture junkie that I am), Time (I read book and movie reviews), Newsweek (I stared at the covers), Oxford American (I enjoyed the yearly CD insert), The New York Review of Books (the publication size was too large and unwieldy),and The New Yorker (I felt more cultured just by knowing a new issue would show up each week in my mailbox, regardless of whether or not I read it), and Wired (lots of tech stuff I couldn’t understand), I came to the conclusion that there must be a better way to keep informed. Yes, I know I could just surf the internet, which I do now but couldn’t do when I became a magazine subscriber; however, “real” magazines and books still hold a magic spell over me.
Well, I am happy to report that my mailbox is no longer filled with magazines each week. Instead, I have a subscription to Texture, the online magazine repository that gives me access to all the magazines I ever wanted, and then some. At first I balked at the subscription price, but then quickly realized that it was much cheaper than the cost of subscribing to multiple magazines that come in the mail, and, perhaps most important, a Texture subscription gives me access to weekly and back issue copies of magazines to which I would never subscribe. Plus, I don’t have to worry about where to store all those back issues I will probably never revisit. Of course, I can now easily access my weekly Loafer ideas quickly from Texture and all my favorite news apps like Flipboard. Back in the day, when I began writing this column, I had no choice but to thumb through countless magazines before I landed on something I could use as a springboard for my thoughts.
Texture is divided into three grand divisions. First, you will encounter Highlights, which is a selection of articles from various magazines, curated by the folks at Texture. This selection comes complete with all the expected headlines: “Stories Just For You,” based on your subscription list, “New & Noteworthy Stores,” “Top 10 Reads,” “Long Reads for the Week” (which magically changed to “Long Reads for the Weekend” every Friday afternoon), followed by top stories in various categories like Science and Tech, Business and Finance, and Entertainment. The second division is “My Library” that contains all the issues that you can choose as your favorites. The third division, “Saved Stories,” is where you curate your favorite articles and essays from all the magazines. All too often, this section should more accurately be titled “Saved and Forgotten Stories,” because, like all those folders you have created in your email server, this is where you consign things you never expect to see again, despite all your good intentions. Fortunately, I use this section to save stuff I might use for upcoming Kelly’s Place columns.
Although, as I noted previously, I prefer thumbing through the pages of “real” magazines, I am so impressed by the visual quality of Texture’s magazines, I am beginning to prefer these digital versions to the “real” thing. And I have lots of magazines, some I consult more than others. Magazines like Fast Company, Forbes, Billboard, Architectural Digest (a publication that should be retitled, “Lots Of Beautiful and Sumptuous Things I Can Never Afford”), Interview, Mother Jones, PC World, Macworld, Reminisce (a textbook on the many fallacies of nostalgia), Reader’s Digest (a very old friend) The Atlantic, Texas Monthly (a surprise even to me), Variety, and Real Simple (which should be classified as fantasy). Needless to say, I have also curated those familiar faces from years past: The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Entertainment Weekly, Rolling Stone, Esquire (can’t get enough of those pretentious fashion ads), and Smithsonian.
Now, the important question: “Do you read all these magazines every week?” The answer is a big resounding No. In fact, despite all the glitz and glamour, I probably don’t read much more than I did when I was receiving published copies of these magazines–or, only a small sampling of what I have now–each week or month. Take The New Yorker, for instance. Although this is one of the most prestigious publications in America, I still go straight to “Briefly Noted,” to see what four books are being reviewed this week.
So much to read and so little time. I suspect the main appeal of Texture is the illusion it gives us of mastery. Just seeing all these magazines in my queue each week gives me a strange sense of security and completeness. Does it really matter whether I read each and every one of these magazines each week or month? Probably not. And this is the paradox of our Age of Everything. We can’t possibly get to all of this, but we are comforted (or sometimes bewildered) that we have such complete access for the first time in human history. Although it would be infinitely better to subscribe to only one well-read magazine than to dozens of barely-to-never-perused publications, we persist in our illusions of completeness. I stand guilty as accused. Needless to say, I have no plans to discontinue my Texture subscription any time soon, and I encourage you to subscribe as well.
See you next week, right after I read “Briefly Noted” in The New Yorker.