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An Open Letter to The New Yorker

posted by Jason Kottke   Jun 10, 2003

To Whom It May Concern:

The most recent issue of your magazine, the Début Fiction issue, arrived in our mailbox yesterday. Forgoing for now an exploration of your reasons for accenting the “e” in the English word “debut”, I would like to direct your attention to pages 98 and 99 of that issue. Page 98 is to the left of the crease of the magazine and contains part of an article entitled Our Perfect Summer by David Sedaris, an article I was keenly interested in reading when I saw it in the table of contents. Page 99 is to the right of the crease and contains two vertical half-page flaps that open to reveal an advertisement for UBS. Let’s call the flap that opens toward the crease page 99A, the flap that opens away page 99B, and the revealed advertisement page 99C.

Here’s my problem. Page 99A keeps opening up and flopping down in front of the Sedaris article I’m trying to read on page 98 because the thumb on my right hand is not nearly long enough to clamp it down with the rest of the pages on the right hand side of the magazine. I had to resort to an unorthodox, complicated, and uncomfortable magazine-holding position in order to keep page 99A from interfering with my reading, a position that, had it lasted any longer than the two minutes it took me to read the text it was covering, would have driven me completely bats.

I realize that with all the excitement around the Débuting Fiction in the magazine, you probably forgot, just this once, to run the magazine through The Condé Nast Magazine Usability Lab. And also that UBS probably loves the fact that their exhaustively-honed advertising copy is flopping down in front of the hilarious literary stylings of David Sedaris like a pop up ad on the web and precipitating a post (with a link, no less) on a personal web site of modest acclaim. But this flap, it’s seriously annoying. Please make it go away from all future issues of your magazine.

Yours very sincerely,

Jason Kottke

ps. Please do not print this letter in your magazine. I do not wish for my, how you say, inelegant grammar, odd punctuational choices, and inadequate vocabulary to be snickered at by your discerning readership.

pps. I love this bit from the Sedaris article:

“But it’s perfect,” my father said. “A real beauty, just like your mother here.” He came from behind and pinched her on the bottom. She laughed and swatted him with a towel and we witnessed what we would later come to recognize as the rejuvenating power of real estate. It’s what fortunate couples turn to when their sex life has faded and they’re too pious for affairs. A second car might bring people together for a week or two, but a second home can revitalize a marriage for up to nine months after the closing.