Addressing the Problem

            I have mentioned that this column is not going to steer away from controversy.  This is an election year, after all, and that wouldn’t be the American way.  I want to be known as the blogger who considered the Big Issues.  Even if I do wind up as the blogger who considered them and then put them right back on the shelf.

            Anyhew, the burning question I would like to consider now is “Are you risking your good name if you don’t cut it off your magazines?”

            I mention this because I have a dear, dear donor who keeps dropping off some scholarly magazines for me to sell.  They are small magazines—six or eight pages most months—but contain a goodly amount of useful information.  And this dear soul ALWAYS cuts his/her name off the cover.  (No, I don’t know whether it’s a him or a her; the name’s cut off the cover.  Do pay attention, doughnut drops.)

            The reason, of course, is that you have been warned that leaving an address label intact means some fiendish soul (and we all know how many of those go to book fairs) will steal your personal information off the label and use it for Nefarious Ends.  I will not go on record as saying you might more profitably spend your time worrying about how you’ll hide from your family after you win the Lottery, but friends and neighbors, really!  If you cut half a page off of a six page magazine, you’re not leaving me with very much to sell.

            A dear donor whose name I do know used to donate magazines, and ask “You will take my name off them, won’t you?”  Well, since she asked, I did my best.  But half her magazines had printed the name and address right on the cover, and most of the rest had apparently used Super Glue on their labels.  I did what I could with an indelible marker, but like any good Fiendish Soul (membership card #1095) I know that all you have to do is view the label from an angle and you can read the address right through the ink.

            What is it she didn’t want people to know, anyhow?  Her address was right there in the phonebook; anybody who wanted that could get it my easier avenues than hunting around at the Book Fair.  Is the fact that she subscribed to Chicago History magazine really useful for some Nefarious End?  No, honest: the publishers of the magazine do not have your Social Security number or your Visa card number or your eBay customer name encoded in that line of numbers at the top.  If anything in that line is comprehensible at all, it’s that bit at the end that says “Feb12”, which indicates that you need to renew your subscription.

            Now, as I say, I am not going to tell you what to do, chutney torte.  Heaven forbid that you should leave an address label on a magazine and later see a music video featuring your dental records on YouTube because someone tracked you through the coded information thereupon.  And I will not turn away your magazine donations simply because you have vandalized the cover to the point where no customer will even pick the journal up, much less buy it.

            I’m only saying that there is surely enough to worry about in the world, and that perhaps you could put away the scissors and the paranoia, and save us both a little time and trouble.  There really isn’t so very much to fear from letting one label get into the general array.  (And if you don’t stop ticking me off this way, I know where to find your address.)

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