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Thursday, September 06, 2012

What do you do with old magazines?


Just that. What do you do with the buggers? I just opened a box which has been gathering dust in my office for ten years and was amazed what I found. Impenetrably dense issues of ZigZag from the days of punk rock, thirty-year-old copies of Rolling Stone, cultish Anglophile music magazines like Bomp! and Trouser Press from the mid-70s, editions of The Face from the days when you'd forgotten it was still going and lots of things I've worked on myself. For years I used to have the magazines I'd worked on myself put in bound volumes. This means they're in good condition but I hardly ever look at them.

But why did I keep these magazines in the boxes? Often because they cost money, were hard to track down at the time and would be impossible to replace. At the time in the mid-70s when I was originally enthralled by John Tobler's interviews with Mike Nesmith or Nick Kent's look back at the Beach Boys I suppose I thought I would never get that kind of treat again. Little did anyone suspect that in forty years time people would still be twining out glossier versions of the same thing. Nostalgia would prove to have a future that nobody could have predicted.

I look at these magazines now and I wonder what to do with them. Once I put them back in this box I'll never get them out again. They're not sufficiently organised for me to ever use them as a form of reference. If I wanted to find particular pieces I could probably Google them or I could easily email somebody who would have them. They're not worth any money on the secondhand market. And they're dust magnets. When I first packed them away I was a young bloke trying to hang on to my youth. Why the hell am I hanging on to them now?

17 comments:

  1. Oh, I know that feeling only too well. I have a boxes with copies of IT, Oz, Undercurrents and a complete set of Gandalf's Gardens (only 6 issues though). I will never look at them and they are probably all much to fragile to handle anyway given the quality of the materials used. But throwing them away seems like a big step.

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  2. Get them bound maybe? Theres a bit too much quality there for the dump

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  3. Do what I do. Tear out the interesting articles and keep them in a file. Dump the rest. In a few years you find the file, wonder why you kept it, and throw it away. Simple.

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  4. Happy to take them off your hands....

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  5. I'm in the same boat - boxes of the things, rare magazines going back to the 1960s. Many of them likely to be the only copies in NZ. It seems like vandalism to cut them up - and then Huw is right, I'd probably never look at the clippings anyway. But every now and then I dip into the boxes, and remember that - besides the articles - I love the design, the typography, the photographs, even though they are newsprint. Have tried getting a library to bite, but they too have storage issues. Being on the other side of the world, Ebay is no use: the postage would be prohibitive. Probably a job lot for 100 quid locally is the best I could ask for. Or I could just biff them, which seems criminal.

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  6. Oh crikey, I know that feeling. Piles of old guitar mags, and Qs from when it was any good and not just a bunch of advertorials. In the end I kept a few and binned the rest. Glad it's not just me who felt guilty at the prospect of doing away with them - and then did it anyway. It is about hanging on to the thing the magazines represent to us, and then realising that we're not that person any more, and haven't been for a long time...

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  7. I wonder if the internet archive chaps would be interested. They might well scan and index them and present them online as part of their archives, probably for free.

    http://archive.org/details/texts/

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  8. Chuck 'em. Live dangerously

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  9. I'd like to thank Chris Bourke for introducing me to the Kiwi verb "to biff".

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  10. No, no, no! Keep them! They are ephemera and should be kept. I have old issues of Sounds, NME, MM, Zig Zag and the rest... I have copies of The Observer magazine from the mid-60's, I even have copies of the Illustrated London News from the turn of the last century. The point is that they are not just a collection of articles, but a snapshot of life as it was at that time. A scan will never replace the memories that flood in when you handle and re-read magazines from all those years ago. An exercise in nostalgia for you and I, a fascinating glimpse of a disappeared world for our children. Hang onto 'em for as long as you can, then hand them down...

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  11. Charity shop? Oxfam's economies of scale might make it worthwhile for them to shift anything vaguely collectable for a couple of quid on EBay. (ZigZags of the vintage of the one pictured will sell for a fiver.) Even if they just put them out in the shop for pennies there'll be kids who fall on them the same way I did on 1950s/60s mags in the 1980s. When I dropped off a couple of years' worth of 20-year-old Qs at the local Sue Ryder they were gone in a couple of days.

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  12. Scan and upload to a grateful world who can see things as they were, not through the blinkered eyes of a 23 year old doing a cuttings job. Owning emphera takes up unnecessary space and lacks financial value; but it is important historically, and to the owner and those who appreciate that sort of thing. best thing is for it to become part fo the intellectual public domain.

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  13. Excellent Idea from Mr Grimsdale, get a collective to do it so the younger generation can feed off this history.

    I recently did it with the first 24 Rolling Stones.

    Anyone wanting the pdfs can email me by just adding @gmail.com to my google name.

    BTW, I'm in the same situation as you mag wise.

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  14. David - keep 'em, or find an archive that'll take them. If I had space I'd buy them from you. But, having just moved home recently and chucked a lot of stuff, I know how easy it is to see them as junk awaiting their inevitable fate.

    But, they are of value an interest to someone, and maybe not for obvious reasons.

    I have paid tens of pounds for old and tattered copies of magazines - Rolling Stone, Billboard, and others - not for only for the journalism or interviews contained therein (although that may be interesting, too), but usually for things like adverts; historical ephemera etc.

    I edit a series of books on music for Reaktion Books, which is titled 'Reverb'. Excuse me if I advertise!

    www.reverb-series.co.uk

    These are illustrated books of a cultural-historical nature. Given that we live in a time when licensing copyrighted images costs quite a lot of money, especially if mean to include dozens in a book that retails at less than 20 quid, you have to find ways to do it cheaper - things like adverts for albums, gigs, are often particularly evocative of an era, or some particular time, place, fashion, etc., and very useful to a reader who occupies a present often quite distant from the events in our books.

    Don't chuck them!

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  15. Why hang onto them? Because old magazines are so much more interesting and important than just some forgotten features that smell funny.

    The more time goes on, the more interesting they get: I've got copies of wimmin's magazines from the '30s and 40's that tell you more about social history than text books ever get near to.

    Don't throw them out - one day that box will be proper history and everything!


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  16. I've a vast decaying pile of NMEs at my parents' house that my wife refuses (justifiably) to let enter our house. I'd like to do something with them, rather thank just chucking them. Don't have time to scan them myself. I suspect the recycling bin looms.

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  17. People tend to overestimate current value based on what they paid for it in the first place. Add to that "collector mentality" and nostalgia and it is hard to let go of sets of things even when you don't want them anymore. Magazines aren't the rare ephemera they once were. For most archives, a scan of Gandalf's Garden would serve the same purpose as a physical copy.

    I'd suggest scanning what you really want and disposing of the rest. If ebay doesn't want it, perhaps take that as a sign of its current value. Please don't leave them for your children to deal with. They're going to be even less interested than you.

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