The Death of Subscription-Card Inserts May Be Upon Us

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Today the Times reports, somewhat anecdotally, that the use of subscription cards (or "blow-ins," as they're called in the industry) in magazines might be on the wane. "Everybody seems to be subscribing online, so it doesn’t make sense to pay for them to be cut up and inserted into each issue, to say nothing of the postage," read an announcement in The Believer, one of a few magazines recently to give up the practice. We've always been torn about subscription cards (which New York uses, by the way). On the one hand, they're great for keeping your place, and they are actually, to our knowledge, the way we first began subscribing to all of our favorite magazines — before they started sending us a card every few weeks trying to terrorize us into thinking our subscription has to be renewed right now, regardless of the fact that we just upped again for two years. But on the other hand, they give you paper cuts and can be annoying and litter-y.

What troubles us most is when they fall out of our magazine on the subway. There's this terrible moment when you look down at the card, sticking slightly to the Starbucks, mud, and DNA-soaked floor, and you're like, "Can I just pretend I didn't see that fall, so I don't have to put my hand in contact with all that hepatitis C?" Of course, when this happens to us, we always end up picking them up because we are very easily motivated by the prospect of public shame. But the trick is, if you don't react quickly enough, someone else will pick it up for you. Which is one of those insane things about New York City. People will go for months without making eye contact with a stranger, but they will bend down and touch the disgusting subway floor to hand you back something that you obviously don't want or need.

Anyway, the Vanity Fair subscription cards are the best because they have a narrow detachable part on the top that is perfect for bookmarks.

Subscription Cards, R.I.P. [ArtsBeat/NYT]