Spines

Nothing to do? Try cruising the library. Particularly one that stocks current periodicals. On shelves. Oh, and has lazy library assistants who don’t like to file the periodicals for binding but can keep them in nice, squared-off stacks. Arranged chronologically.

Maybe everyone’s already noticed this, discussed it, shared their feelings about it on Facebook, and posted lovely color photos on Instagram and issued a Tweet about it.

Or maybe not. So, just in case, here’s the scoop.

For years, magazines have allowed prime real estate to lie fallow. Unplowed and under-exploited. Shameful.

At best, the only thing the property has been used for is to identify the publication’s name, issue date and year. And since there’s 10 inches or more of it, plenty was left to who-knows-what. Nothing, mostly.

It is like owning an apartment building composed of 10 residences and intentionally only renting six or seven. What are you saving the other three or four for? Marriage?

Well, of course not. And no one does that anymore, anyway.

Now get this. Every morning on my way to the office, I pass by the current periodicals shelves in the library. The route taken goes right by the “A” to “C” section. So, I’m forced – forced – to walk past Cosmopolitan. Magazine.

And guess what? Invariably there is cleavage. On the cover. Of Cosmo. Of all places. OK, you probably already knew that. And the cover of any periodical, like the front page of any newspaper, is prime real estate that no one has ever ignored. It’s what sells the issue.

Hence the cleavage. For a woman’s magazine. Because if there’s one group unaware of that phenomenon, it’s the 51 percent cohort. Pay attention, ladies.

But look closer. (Take it easy, for Pete’s sake!) Closer. At the spine. Not hers, which you can’t see, the magazine’s spine.

There’s a tiny little graphic on the spine. Part of a graphic, really. It makes no sense by itself. Queerly abstract. A bit of a puzzle. Maybe as though it were a misprint. Or an ink smudge.

It’s not.

Stacked up (oh, puh-leeze! I’m referring to the magazines!), laying on their sides (c’mon!), arranged chronologically. What’s that? Wait a minute. It’s a figure. A person.

A little like one of those old-fashioned flip books that mimicked a movie when thumbed. Thus far, the stacked Cosmo spines feature three different men, none of whom owns a shirt.

Oh, and Cosmo isn’t the only magazine doing this. The newly formatted Rolling Stone is, too; but with only two issues out, it’s still too early to tell what graphic will emerge. Though, unimaginatively, it appears to be their name in logo format.

Next trick: how do magazine publishers get advertisers to buy this space?

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