These are "Reports from the Newsstand," my comments on the publications in our catalogue at We offer sample copies of our publications, not subscriptions. Each sample copy costs $2.59, well below newsstand cover prices (if the publication is available on your newsstand at all). A $2.00 shipping charge is added to each order. Publishers use to get their publications into the hands of potential subscribers.


Ed Rust, proprietor of, has worked in publishing in a variety of capacities for decades. He started as U.S. circulation director of the Financial Times "way back when they flew the papers into Kennedy Airport from London a day late." He most recently was managing editor of publications at the General Society, Sons of the Revolution.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

y'all: The Magazine of Southern People

I've spent an enjoyable hour reading the May-June issue of y'all, a bimonthly that calls itself "The Magazine of Southern People." It's published in Oxford, MS, a town rich in literary history as the home of both the University of Mississippi and William Faulkner.

Now in its fourth year, y'all is light in tone, filled with celebrity news and humor columns. It covers a good deal of the country—15 states—and celebrates the region's cultural heritage.

The issue currently in the newsstand features an extensive section on Mississippi's amazing musical contribution to the country and the world. The list of that state's great musicians is long and rich, and includes Elvis Presley, Leontyne Price, Tammy Wynette, Jerry Lee Lewis, Jimmy Buffett, Faith Hill, Sam Cooke and B.B. King. A fold-out map included with the issue shows the birthplace of more than 100 Mississippi musicians, and is followed by two dozen pages of stories about them.

I liked the tale of how blues master B.B. King came to name all his guitars "Lucille." Back in the winter of 1949, he was playing in a dance hall in Twist, AR. The hall was heated by a burning barrel half-filled with kerosene, and during a performance two men began fighting and knocked the barrel over. Everybody evacuated the blazing building, but King realized he'd left his Gibson acoustic guitar inside and foolishly dashed back to retrieve it. Two people died in the fire, and it turned out that the fight had started over a woman named Lucille. King says he named that guitar Lucille "to remind me never to do a thing like that again."

Other articles in the issue are about stand-up comic Wanda Sykes, cable TV "Flip This House" host Richard Davis, Chicago Tribune and PBS Supreme Court reporter Jan Crawford Greenburg and Outdoor Life Network fishing guru Bill Dance. The magazine reports that Dance has always appeared on camera wearing a University of Tennessee orange baseball cap. There was one exception: at the end of a show in which he had gone dove hunting with Ole Miss football coach John Vaught, Vaught grabbed the cap, threw it on the ground, and shot it three times. Dance was left with nothing to pick up but the cap's bill. Football is a serious thing down there.

On the subject of sports, columnist Ronda Rich bemoans the sale of the Turner South cable channel, which covers all sorts of Southern cultural stories and events, to Fox Sports, which will convert it to some sort of sports channel. While Rich acknowledges the importance of sports—she admits that "knowing about sex gets a man but knowing about sports keeps him"—she sees the loss of a cable channel devoted to things Southern as one more defeat in the battle to preserve the region's distinctiveness.

An annual subscription to y'all (six issues) is $19.95 from the publisher. We'll send you a sample copy for $2.59.

Friday, May 19, 2006

JUNIOR BASEBALL: Learning the Game

This morning I'm looking through the pages of a magazine I can viscerally relate to, at least through the foggy lens of memory. It's Junior Baseball, a bimonthly published in Canoga Park, CA that should appeal to young persons who play the game, and to their parents and coaches as well.

My baseball-playing days were in Little League on Long Island in the mid-1950s. You could participate in the village's system from ages 8 to 12. I remember fondly the incredible excitement of putting on a real uniform (scratchy wool at the time) and playing at night under lights. And there are the traumatic memories, such as the night I was out in left field. The fence was just over four feet high, and that was probably the height of the batter. I still remember his name: Castoldi. He hit a high fly ball to left, and I went back, back, back, right up against the fence. I reached up with both hands, caught the ball, and suddenly it wasn't there any more. I had dropped it over the fence!

I also remember my last time at bat in my final season of Little League. I had been a fairly successful left-handed spray hitter, specializing in line drives to the opposite field. As I was up at bat, the umpire―an old family friend―broke every rule of impartial officiating and gave me advice on where to plant my feet. And darned if I didn't pull a deep fly ball to right field, probably the best-struck ball I had ever hit. As I've watched baseball in stadiums and on television over the years, I've often wondered whether that kind of knowledgeable advice a couple of years earlier would have led to a more prolonged baseball career.

Which brings us back to Junior Baseball, which is filled with good fundamental advice. A recent issue now in our newsstand has a column (for players aged 5-8) on various techniques for making stronger throws from the outfield, another (for players 9-13) on coping with pitching in cold weather, and yet another (for players 14-17) on exercises for preparing for the start of the season.

There's an article on the dangers of steroids, a profile of a successful traveling team of kids from Wayne County, MI, and an interview with Seattle pitcher Jamie Moyers. I found interesting an article on eye protection for baseball players, not only from traumatic injury, but also from ultraviolet light in dry climates such as Southern California, which can cause a dangerous eye condition called pterygium. Goggles with UV protection are recommended. There's also a useful column for coaches suggesting that selection or election of team captains can bring an added level of peer leadership to a team.

The game for kids has changed dramatically from what I knew: the magazine is filled with ads for aluminum bats (some for more than $300!), radar guns to tell you how fast you are pitching, and all sorts of instructional videos. There are expensive instructional camps, often run by former pro players, and traveling leagues made up of elite teams that play other good teams in a wide geographic region and that are apparently cutting into the player pool for regular junior baseball activities.

But baseball is still fundamentally about hitting and throwing the ball, and it's often the first organized sports activity that children encounter. As Junior Baseball editor and publisher Dave Destler writes in the issue, "The experience a kid has at the most basic, beginning levels of baseball determines whether he will want to go on and continue playing next season. . .or if he will exchange his baseball cleats for soccer cleats. Or a Game Box."

An annual subscription (six issues) to Junior Baseball is $17.70 from the publisher. We'll send you a sample copy for $2.59.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

SHAMBHALA SUN: A Buddhist Take on Life

This morning we officially welcome Shambhala Sun to the newsstand. This very attractive bimonthly is filled with articles explaining Buddhist practice and philosophy to a sophisticated Western readership.

Articles in the May issue, now in the newsstand, cover subjects of interest both to practitioners of Buddhism and to readers who are interested in a different take on life. You'll find essays on a variety of Buddhist teachings, including the value of meditation, the art of awareness, the proper care of sacred objects from any religious tradition and vegetarianism.

I was surprised to learn that Buddhists are not necessarily vegetarians. Noa Jones writes wryly, "Even the highest Tibetan lamas are not above reproach. In his classic, Words of My Perfect Teacher, the great eighteenth-century Tibetan yogi and sage Patrul Rinpoche chastened carnivorous lamas who accept offerings of meat and devour 'piles of the still quivering ribs of yak until their mouths gleam with grease and their whiskers turn red.' He warns that they will be reborn in the ephemeral hells where they will have to pay back with their own bodies. Yet some of the most learned, authentic lamas I know eat meat."

Jones reports that some of her Buddhist friends argue that "it is better to eat little parts of big animals than lots of little animals." Their reasoning: a plate of shrimp requires a dozen lives, but the single life of a cow can satisfy dozens of diners.

I really liked a shimmering essay on the central Buddhist concept of emptiness by poet Norman Fischer, a Zen practitioner. To Buddhists, emptiness means that everything is transitory and without a solid identity or essence, that nothing is "real" in the usual sense. He explains, "We are, according to the emptiness pundits of Buddhism, deeply ignorant of the one thing we should not be ignorant of: the real nature of ourselves and the world we live in. 'Ignorance,' unfortunately, doesn't mean we don't know. It would be better if we didn't know. Ignorance means we know something very firmly, but it is the wrong thing: we know that things are solid and independent and intrinsically existent. But they actually are not. So ignorance is not not-knowing; ignorance is a form of knowing, but it is a mis-knowing. And spiritual practice is the process of coming to see our mis-knowledge and letting it go: to begin to experience, accept, and live the truth about how we and the world actually are. When we begin to understand and live in this way, there is a great decrease in the fear and dread, so common in human experience, caused by the huge gap between our expectations and the way things actually are. With an appreciation of the empty nature of things, there are no more foiled expectations. There is a lot more joy, peace, and love."

The ads in Shambhala Sun are also interesting. Most are for gatherings at retreat houses located across North America, some rather posh, and quite a few are for upscale items like art works, silk sleeping bags, large domed tents ("live in sacred geometry"), Japanese bedroom furniture ("harmony in the bedroom") and ergonomically designed meditation stools.

We've also received a supply of Shambhala Sun's sister publication,
Buddhadharma. Subtitled "The Practitioner's Quarterly," it too contains a raft of well-crafted articles on Buddhist practice and philosophy. Both magazines are beautifully designed and are filled with colorful reproductions of traditional Buddhist art as well as imaginative contemporary illustrations. The magazines are published in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

An annual subscription to Shambhala Sun (six issues) is $28.00 from the publisher, although a postcard in the May issue offers a special deal: a two-year subscription for $28.00. An annual subscription to Buddhadharma (four issues) is $19.95 from the publisher. We'll send you a sample copy of either magazine for $2.59.

Monday, May 08, 2006

RESTAURANT STARTUP & GROWTH: On Becoming a Restaurateur

Today we'll look at Restaurant Startup & Growth, a no-nonsense trade magazine about starting restaurants and making them run profitably. The newsstand generally doesn't carry trade publications, but we made an exception in this case. A great many people love to think about, read about and watch television shows about food, and it's my guess that a lot of them fantasize about opening a restaurant of their own. So, our reasoning went, we should stock a magazine that will tell them what's involved in making such a dream come true.

We've received a supply of the April issue of Restaurant Startup & Growth, which is published monthly in Parkville, MO. It's nicely edited, with colorful graphics and serious attention paid to thinking up articles useful to those in the business or contemplating joining it. The articles are usually long and detailed.

The articles in this particular issue are all aimed at existing restaurant operators. There's "Look Before You Leap," a lengthy examination of what to consider before you decide to open a second restaurant because your first has been so successful.
A piece of trenchant advice applicable to any business contemplating such an expansion: have enough capital set aside to keep the new operation running for a while, avoiding at all costs having to cut back on the successful restaurant to keep the new one going.

I liked "Rise & Shine," a study of the factors involved in adding a breakfast operation to an existing restaurant. Authors Chris Tripoli and Emily Durham catalogue the different kinds of breakfast services available, from "breakfast on the go" operations where you buy a bagel or some other item and consume it after you leave, to sit-down settings catering to business and networking groups. They also note geographic breakfast specialties, such as rancheros in the Southwest and ham and red-eye gravy (or liver and grits!) in the South. I was surprised to learn that IHOP only does 35% of its business between 7 a.m. and 11 a.m., but that 70% of its total sales are "breakfast" items. And that Papa John's pizza chain is testing breakfast pizzas, scrambled eggs and cheese baked on pizza dough.

There are several nitty-gritty articles in the issue, such as one on preventing and managing roof leaks, a common problem for restaurants because they often have flat roofs with many ducts and pipes penetrating that roof. There's another on hand-washing hygiene, which the author feels is sometimes neglected when restaurants focus on having their kitchen staff wear disposable gloves. This issue also investigates the rash of suits against national chains by minority patrons claiming discriminatory treatment.

A nice feature of Restaurant Startup & Growth is a companion
Web site that offers all sorts of guidance to restaurant operators. Some of it is free, while other services require membership.

An annual subscription (12 issues) to Restaurant Startup & Growth is $39.95 from the publisher; we'll send you a sample copy for $2.59.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

TRUE CONFESSIONS: Tales of Woe with Happy Endings

My mission today is to journey where few men have gone before: deep into the pages of a recent issue of True Confessions, a legendary monthly that has chronicled the perilous lives of attractive young American women for generations. I'm pleased and relieved to report that they continue to find happiness in the end.

This morning I've been sitting in the newsstand with a copy of the April True Confessions discreetly tucked into an issue of Bear Hunting, and no one seems to have discovered my guilty secret.

Each issue of the magazine centers on a dozen six-page stories. While I can't say there's a formula to them, the young woman who tells the story always seems to find a stern-jawed, twinkly-eyed guy in the last couple of pages.

My favorite story in this issue, hands down, is "Lights, Camera, Action: My Oscar Dreams Turned Into a Hollywood Nightmare!" It has our heroine getting off the bus in Hollywood from her Kansas high school where, of course, she acted in the school play. A bit naive, she answers an ad in a movie trade paper and shows up for a screen test. Before she knows it, sleazy producer Vince has her in a porn film! In her own words, "It finally dawned on me that there was no way to deny the truth. I had lost my virginity on film!" But there's a quick and happy denouement: Her handsome and gentle co-star, Andre, is just as outraged at her fate and decks Vince. The happy pair go off to San Francisco, where Andre resumes his real career as a stand-up comic and she learns the biz as well. She also comes up with a fake ID that shows she's underage, and convinces Vince to burn the incendiary footage or face going to jail on a child-abuse charge.

Another story is curiously non-sex-oriented. A happy young wife is driving alone from rural Mississippi to her high-school reunion in Memphis. She makes the mistake of passing a pick-up truck on a two-lane highway. The road rage-prone hayseed in the truck makes the drive hell for her, and even calls a friend in his truck to join him in making her the filling in a high-speed sandwich. Amid all this bumping and braking, the woman makes it to a local police station. The cop listens to her story and says, "Sounds like the Chandler boys. Cousins you know. Like to scare pretty women. Don't mean any harm." She runs off in tears, but finally turns to the state highway patrol, which arrests the miscreants and put them in jail. This story is accompanied by a public-service box about how to deal with road rage.

This issue hit the newsstands in March. Curiously, a third of the stories have Irish themes, presumably to celebrate St. Patrick's Day. Either True Confessions has a large Irish-American audience or, as is the case with many magazines for women, the editorial department likes to give issues holiday themes.

One such story has the enticing title "Undercover Irish: Why I Couldn't Let Anyone Know My True Heritage." The lass who tells the story emigrated as a girl from Ireland to a small town in Utah (don't ask me why) and found that the Irish were too exotic for the locals to tolerate. So she hid her roots, even those in her Maureen O'Hara red hair, which she dyed blonde. But into her local bar on St. Patrick's Day walks an old childhood chum from Ireland, now grown into Adonis-like manhood, and she fears he will tell the world that she's Irish! The existence of a bar in Utah is pretty far-fetched, but on top of that our Irishman now works for the same company as she does, and they're both soon selected to run the new Chicago sales office. Naturally, in Chicago she's exposed to all races and creeds, including the Irish, and learns to properly
appreciate her heritage and her old chum.

This holiday theme business has me wondering how True Confessions celebrates other holidays. Labor Day: Have the cute assistant to the stern Donald Rumsfeld-like vice president for labor relations fall in love with the factory's brave and handsome strike leader. Halloween: The young widow taking her son trick or treating rings the bell of a sad-eyed (but handsome) young fellow who just lost his wife in a hit-and-run accident. Take Your Daughter to Work Day: Another young widow's daughter wanders off into the mail room, and the frantic mother searches for hours only to find her daughter being entertained by the jut-jawed but sweet mail room manager, who's very available…

Cynical people—the kind who think pro wrestling matches or reality television shows are scripted—probably suspect that the stories in True Confessions are written by cigar-chomping newspaper rewrite men during slow periods in the newsroom. I think such people underestimate the literary abilities of America's legion of beleaguered but ultimately triumphant young ladies.

An annual subscription to True Confessions (12 issues) is $19.94 from the publisher, Dorchester Media in New York City. We'll send you a sample copy for $2.59.

Monday, May 01, 2006

ARTnews: Covering the Contemporary Art Scene

This first day of the new month we're pleased to introduce patrons of the newsstand to ARTnews, a major publication in the contemporary art scene. Published monthly in New York City, ARTnews is an energetic explorer of the sometimes bizarre collage that is today's art world.

Money makes the world go round, and the art world is no exception. A lot of the news in the art world is about disputes over big money, and so you'll find a number of stories in ARTnews about these fights.

I've been leafing through the April issue, and find reports on accusations of fiscal mismanagement and trafficking in stolen antiquities at the J. Paul Getty Trust in Los Angeles, operator of the Getty Museum, the controversy over authentication of a number of supposed Jackson Pollock canvases that surfaced four years ago, and a couple of stories dealing with the return of art works confiscated from Jewish collectors by the Nazis before and during World War II.

Amid all this depressing stuff are a couple of nice pieces about small museums with rich collections that are expanding their exhibition spaces despite being in fairly restrictive physical locations. One is New York City's Morgan Library, filled with treasures amassed by the legendary J.P. Morgan; the other is the 85-year-old Phillips Collection in Washington, DC, the country's first modern art museum.

This issue of ARTnews has a fairly long feature on Berlin's recent development as a center of contemporary art, lured by the availability of large spaces at low cost, something that has appealed to artists over the ages. Reporter J.S. Marcus notes that there's a "near total lack of local collectors" of contemporary art in Berlin, but adds that the Internet as a vehicle for displaying art has solved that problem for the artists and gallery owners in the city.

Other articles examine contentious issues in contemporary art, such as the use of photography and software like Photoshop to help create paintings, and the increasing tendency of artists to work in a number of genres at the same time, including video, presenting found objects and using of all sorts of materials (one artist recently exhibited works employing batik, oil paint, thread and KY Jelly).

I liked a profile of Tom Otterness, a whimsical artist who even designed a Humpty Dumpty float for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade last year. It's nice to see that good whimsy can make money: the magazine reports that his bronzes sell for up to $200,000, and his monumental sculptures for up to $1 million.

The back of the magazine contains some of the most interesting material, reviews from gallery shows in New York, elsewhere in the country and overseas. The first New York review, from the China Institute, has nothing to do with contemporary art. It's about an exhibition of Ming Dynasty porcelain from the first part of the 17th century that was created explicitly for the Japanese market, using simple rustic motifs then popular in Japan and very different from traditional Chinese designs. Oddly, this "rustic movement" in the Japanese art world of the time was caused by intense dislike of what were considered considered "ostentatious" Chinese porcelains imported in previous centuries!

Some of today's gallery shows are truly weird. In one from New York, reviewer Sean Kelly reports that performance artist Marina Abramovic used a video to explain what she claims are Serbian peasant sexual rituals to ward off evil spirits or attract a mate. An example of the latter: "A small fish stuffed into the vagina overnight and then ground up into the intended's coffee apparently works wonders."

As with virtually all art publications, a main attraction is the advertising, where you can see what's being featured in galleries today. The range of imagery is vastly entertaining.

An annual subscription to ARTnews (11 issues) is $39.95 from the publisher; we'll send you a sample copy for $2.59.