Staggering Sales of Beef in Cattle-Less Brooklyn

By Hagan, Joe | Folio: the Magazine for Magazine Management, September 15, 2001 | Go to article overview

Staggering Sales of Beef in Cattle-Less Brooklyn


Hagan, Joe, Folio: the Magazine for Magazine Management


In an upscale neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York, a tiny shop known simply as The Store is doing a relatively brisk business selling things like Catholic learning cards, brick chisels, falconry bells and pewter Carolina wren's feet (for taxidermy). It's what one might call a curiosity shop. Among the curios: trade magazines like Beef, Chemical Week, American Tugboat Review and Humps N' Horns, the bible of the bull-riding industry.

Sound like a joke? Well, it is--and it isn't. The Store was established by best-selling author David Eggers, the oft-ironic author of A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius and hero to many urban hipsters. Eggers founded the now-defunct Gen-X magazine Might in the early 1990s, and established the literary journal Timothy McSweeney's Quarterly Concern, as well as a publishing imprint, McSweeney's Books. His tiny shop, decorated with inconspicuous signs that say faux-serious things like "Ask Yourself First," has sold an estimated three copies of Humps N' Horns, three copies of American Tugboat Review, and one copy of Chemical Week. According to a spokesperson for the store, Beef is currently a top-seller at five copies sold, although hopes are high for the forthcoming supply of Shopping Center World. The best-seller, of course, is the nearly complete set of Might magazines (missing issues four, five and six), which goes for $200-the sum of which is donated to the Fresh Air Fund.

While author Eggers forbids his employees from being quoted by the press--and Eggers himself was not available for comment-the publishers of the trades themselves aren't terribly surprised by the interest from non-industry folk.

Matt Coleman, the Talking Rock, Georgia-based editor of Boxboard Containers International (relatively popular at three copies sold), has a pretty good explanation for interest in his field: "Everybody uses boxes," he says. "Everybody. And at some point you need 'em, you want 'em, and maybe m a transient moment when an urban person needs to move-new job, new money, new apartment-they need a corrugated container. Boxes are important. They're how we contain our lives. …

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