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.

Monday, November 20, 2006

HER SPORTS + FITNESS: For Sporting Women

Her Sports + Fitness is a magazine for the woman actively interested in sports activities such as 5k runs, triathlons, long bike rides, surfing, skiing, climbing and marathons, and in what it takes to prepare for these often grueling events. It's published six times a year by Wet Dog Media in St. Petersburg, Florida.

The focus of the magazine is primarily on "average" women who participate in these activities, with a few side glances at star women athletes and their lifestyles.

A typical article in a recent issue is about getting yourself ready for your first five-kilometer run. A 5k race is 3.1 miles. It's appealing because it's relatively short, you can find a local race at that distance almost every weekend, and training for one doesn't eat up all your free time. Her Sports + Fitness proposes a detailed eight-week training program for your first 5k, including stretching, three 20- or 60-minute running sessions each week, cross training and diet tips.

The issue I've been reading also has an interesting article on muscles and how they work. Skeletal muscle, the kind connected to bones, accounts for roughly 40 percent of body weight. These muscles are made up of three different kinds of fibers―slow-twitch, fast-twitch A and fast-twitch B―and what kind of fibers predominate in an individual, the result of genetic inheritance, apparently determines whether he or she is going to be a better sprinter or marathon runner. (Note to self: analyze local nags at Aqueduct and Belmont for slow-twitch and fast-twitch fibers.)

A report on hydration says recent research indicates that you should drink according to your thirst rather then ahead of your thirst, and that a sports drink with sodium and other electrolytes is preferable to water because the former is absorbed faster into the bloodstream. The electrolytes and other nutrients make it easier for fluid to enter muscle cells and fibers quickly.

Another article is about waterboarding, described by author Barrett Perlman as the "lovechild of surfing and waterskiing." In addition to some brief tips on how to get started, there's a sidebar on gear, which is not cheap: board ($200-$600), bindings ($100-$400), rope & handle ($130-$240), life vests ($20-$130) and board shorts ($60).

About those shorts, Perlman warns, "You risk losing more than just your pride in a wipeout. Even if you're wearing the most high-performance sport-specific swimsuit there is, if you hit the water just so, your bottoms will ride up, or worse, get pulled off. A good pair of board shorts will keep you covered in style."

The issue's star athlete feature is on Summer Sanders, double gold medal-winning swimmer in the 1992 Olympics and a subsequent TV sportscaster. What does it mean to be world-class athlete? She got a call in New York City one fall day in 1999 from a girlfriend who was entered in the New York City Marathon the following morning. The friend was injured; did Summer want her race number? She jumped at the chance to enter her first marathon, and finished the race in 3 hours and 35 minutes, without any special preparation.

Her Sports + Fitness is filled with little news notes about products and relevant news developments. But the proofreading could be a little bit better. One story, about a Swedish study of cell phone use and brain tumors, says that researchers "tracked 4,400 mobile phone users between the ages of 20 and 80 for 10 years. Of the 905 who were diagnosed with malignant brain tumors, 85 were 'heavy users'." If that's the rate for such malignancies in Sweden, the country will be empty in a few years.

Each issue also contains news on sports-related travel, recipes that are healthy and easy to prepare, athletic fashions and skin care.

An annual subscription to Her Sports + Fitness (six issues) is $15.95 from the publisher; you can get a sample copy from us for $2.59.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

AMERICAN THEATRE: The Non-profit Theatre Scene

American Theatre is a high-energy guide to the world of non-profit theatre in the United States and abroad. Published 10 times a year by the Theatre Communications Group in Manhattan, it's a thoughtful report from the front row and backstage about innovative ways that community theatre groups are trying to grow audiences in often challenging economic and political circumstances.

A recent issue provides a fascinating guide to the awesome diversity of theatrical experience away from Broadway musicals and their ubiquitous touring companies.

The cover article in the issue is about the staging of Grendel, a new opera by Elliot Goldenthal based on John Gardner's celebrated 1971 novel of the same name, a reinterpretation of the old Beowulf saga from the monster's point of view. Juliet Taymor (of Lion King, Titus and Frida fame) directed a cast of 18 soloists, 48 adult chorus members, 10 child chorus singers, 20 dancers and two dozen puppets. The opera was presented this year at the Los Angeles Opera and at New York's Lincoln Center.

This Grendel is a thinking monster's monster, musing that humanity desperately needs a totally evil enemy to provide it with a sense of community and morality. He's also practical, realizing that if he kills all the men, women and children, he'd have absolutely nothing left to do.

The main setting for Grendel is what designer George Tsypin calls "a cosmic rock floating in the void." It's a rocky shelf, 48 feet wide, 24 feet deep and 9 feet high, that rotates on stage from an ice side to an earth side. The rock is powered by 26 separate motors. American Theatre describes the chaotic and tension-filled last days before the premiere in Los Angeles as the opera's creators struggle with the balky set and other problems, including the tendency for performers to fall off as it rotated.

The magazine is full of interesting tidbits, such as DePaul University's new Wigs and Hair Chicago, where you can get some sort of degree in designing, creating and maintaining stage hair, and an exhibition of playwright Clifford Odets' expressionist paintings.

I loved an article about "standardized patients," actors who are paid by the hour to simulate patients and their family members for medical students. A pediatrics resident recalled her training: "The best standardized patient encounter I had was one where we had to tell the patient's wife her husband had Alzheimer's. She started to cry―she wasn't ready to accept that fact. I had to get her to bring him in to start treatment. It was very real."

For me, the high point of the issue was a report of a gathering of theatre professionals to discuss the issues that concern them. Chief among them is competition for attention from a resurgent Broadway touring system, the Internet and mass market sports. The level of local theatre reporting and criticism in newspapers is very low, and the financially pressed newspapers are cutting back on local coverage even more these days.

Panel members reported that audience members were growing increasingly intolerant of works that questioned their values. They noted the "tyranny of the known title," the tendency of people to be drawn to a familiar name, whether the title of the play or a name actor. They also spoke of the plight of the struggling actor, writer or other artists involved in non-profit theatre, poorly paid and without health insurance. One commented, "It's great to be an artist in America when you're young. But nobody wants to take responsibility for artists when they grow up."

But the panel's comments were not all negative. They reported on innovative ways of raising funds for new productions, such as approaching corporate types with a sales pitch for "research and development" in a theatre, language that makes sense to the potential donor. And they spoke of "concierge theatre," involving the audience member in non-passive discussions and activities before the event, after the event and even during the event. Some added that many young people are turned off by the concept of a traditional theatre, but will throng a bar for theatre in the guise of a cabaret show.

A subscription to American Theatre (10 issues a year) is included in the annual membership fee of $39.95 ($20.00 for students) from the publisher. We'll send you a sample copy for $2.59.