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Freebies

Each month, Olive Magazine arrives packed with a little something extra. Most months, it's no more than a small, glossy booklet collating in one handy package a number of thematically-related articles - dessert recipes, restaurants to visit, that sort of thing. Other months, there are objects wrapped up in its outer plastic: one month, there was a silicon spatula in a lovely shade of blue. Another month, there was a capacious Olive-branded shopping bag, which has come in handy now and again. This month was a bumper crop: a single origin Thornton's chocolate bar; a booklet of foodie destinations; and a bit of less immediately interesting targeted marketing, an ovenable metal bag.

I describe all this not as an advertisement for Olive (although it's a fine magazine), but for the contrast it presents to all the other journals to which I subscribe. Mill News is occasionally accompanied by pretty little pamphlets and maps; this month's was extra-special - it came with a pamphlet containing an essay of particular interest to me - almost like getting a little book free with it.

Beyond those, to claim the rest of my journals come with freebies is to stretch the concept a little too far. Once in a blue moon, a press will pay to have an advertising flier included with one of them. Isis includes a once-a-year extra bibliography volume. AHA membership comes complete with a surfeit of newsletters. Beyond that? Well, you get what you pay for in the underfunded world of semi-commercial academia.

Inspired by Olive, I've been daydreaming recently about all the fun little freebies which could arrive in my mailbox every few months. Isis could give away a glossy, make-your-own astrolabe one month. Renaissance Quarterly might arrive with a sample of vellum, from an appropriate advertiser. Speculum's plastic wrapping could enclose a set of nicely-printed medieval recipe cards. (Collect them all!). Technology and Culture could come with a replica miniature nineteenth-century board game. Well-thought-out freebies are usually worth receiving.

Alas, given the business model under which academic journals operate and the lack of heavy-duty advertising revenue behind them, it's not likely to happen anytime sooner. But I can dream.

Comments

( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
tisiphone
Apr. 16th, 2007 10:46 pm (UTC)
I really wish that journals did come with such things routinely; for extremely interesting ones, I might even be inclined to say I'd be happy to pay an extra few dollars to get them, because I love the surprise of getting such things.
owlfish
Apr. 16th, 2007 11:10 pm (UTC)
If I knew a journal had a past trend of freebies that appealed to me cost just a few dollars extra to subscribe for that reason - absolutely, I'd do it.
tisiphone
Apr. 16th, 2007 11:14 pm (UTC)
Actually, I do do that; I subscribe to Newtype precisely because it usually comes with a DVD, even though it's more expensive than others. (I used to subscribed to .net for the same reason, but that's less appealing with high-speed internet!)
a_d_medievalist
Apr. 16th, 2007 11:34 pm (UTC)
Hell, I'd be happy if Speculum actually had more than the occasional article about a period before C12!
owlfish
Apr. 17th, 2007 09:25 am (UTC)
What journals are good for the earlier Middle Ages? (Not a rhetorical question; genuine interest.)
a_d_medievalist
Apr. 17th, 2007 12:13 pm (UTC)
Early Medieval Europe, Francia, a couple of others...
owlfish
Apr. 17th, 2007 02:26 pm (UTC)
Thank you.
margotmetroland
Apr. 17th, 2007 07:08 am (UTC)
I presume Speculum isn't a medical publication?
owlfish
Apr. 17th, 2007 08:22 am (UTC)
No, it's the journal of the Medieval Academy of America, using the word "speculum" in its latinate meaning of "mirror".
margotmetroland
Apr. 17th, 2007 12:04 pm (UTC)
Strange modern use for speculum, given it's not very mirror-like! I suppose it helps you see things differently....

I'll stop now.
owlfish
Apr. 17th, 2007 02:26 pm (UTC)
It sounds odd today, if you don't know the Latin, yes! But it does explain, technically, where the mdoern device of the same name originally came from.
mutabbal
Apr. 17th, 2007 12:13 pm (UTC)
The best freebie that the AHA could give would be fewer mailings. I receive more mail from them than from my college's alumni fund!
owlfish
Apr. 17th, 2007 02:25 pm (UTC)
So true! The only AHA newsletter articles I read these days are via the links in the emails. I don't need all that material duplicated in paper form. I can appreciate that many people like paper versions of things (and for many things, I do too!), but in this case, if I could opt out of most of their mailings, I would. (I'd just keep the AHR and the conference-related mailings.)
noncalorsedumor
Apr. 18th, 2007 04:15 am (UTC)
With the exception of Consumer Reports, I don't think any of our many magazine subscriptions* come with freebies. I am sad.


*I get one magazine. Craig gets 23423421512. Most of them involve wood, and things you can do with wood.
( 14 comments — Leave a comment )