When I’m on the road for work, the best 15 minutes of my day happen at the airport newsstand.
Having free time to browse almost makes the hassle of airport security worthwhile. I scan row after row of magazines. I marvel at the latest creative designs and the cover lines that call out to me. The experience is equal parts professional interest (we make magazines, after all) and personal pleasure.
In truth, I travel often and buy enough copies of the three magazines below that I probably should subscribe to save money. But then I’d miss the full experience: browse, buy, board and binge.
What other magazine could pull off a “celebrity cover” of Albert Einstein to celebrate 100 years of general relativity?
Scientific American is pop science packaged up with a healthy mix of engrossing storytelling and visual data. Its writers, editors and art directors have taken me to space, to remote places around the world to explore human origins and evolution, and into labs of geneticists and other highly advanced scientists. It’s not light reading, but it gives me plenty of conversation fodder for my destination.
Here’s where I lose my geek cred. A few years back, I let my subscription to Wired lapse after several years as a dedicated reader. Wired’s digital excellence is partly to blame. It's in all my feeds, so I get a steady drip of its tech-centric take on culture, science, business, you name it.
But then I pick up the latest copy at the newsstand, and I remember why Wired is always a print leader: the clever cover design. The infographics, still among the best in the business. The gear coverage. The future-is-coming mentality you can feel in every story.
The value of interest-driven magazines comes into play in this case, because I am obsessed with skiing. I buy this one less frequently than, say, Wired, and usually it’s when winter is either coming or here. To call Powder snow porn is to oversimplify, because it does produce some fantastic adventure reporting. Sure, I can catch up on the latest in ski technology, but what I really want to do is get lost in a tale of bravery (or stupidity, in many cases). Or—especially if I’m flying to the mountains—I want to be wowed by a beautifully captured ski landscape. There’s still nothing like a print spread to convey the idea, “Wish you were here?”