Friday, January 10, 2020

Magazines at Your Fingertips

A selection of Reader's Digests that can be read online or downloaded using Flipster.
I was visiting a friend in New Orleans about a year and a half after Hurricane Katrina when one of her magazines arrived in the mail. You’d have thought it was Christmas, her birthday and the day she won the lottery all in one.

It turns out this was the first time since the hurricane that her mail had included a magazine. In fact, there were still many days when she didn’t get any mail. Holding that magazine was a simple pleasure and a symbol of normalcy.

My own magazine subscriptions became casualties of self-imposed budget cuts a few years ago. I was thinking the other day about how much I miss the ritual of pulling a new issue out of the mailbox and settling down to read it.   

The ritual is different now, but I can still read some of my favorite magazines, thanks to my library cards. Yes, I have several cards. As I wrote in this post, they’re available in the library and online. What I’ve found, though, is the newest issues are rarely available.

I just learned about a program called Flipster that provides free access to digital magazines through libraries. It works on computers and mobile devices and has an app that allows you to download magazines to read offline. The app also lets you search for participating libraries.

Westlake Porter Public Library is one of them. You can access Flipster through the library’s website. Sign in using your library card number and you’ll see a list of categories. Magazines that focus on news, entertainment, sports, cooking and travel are among the selections. Best of all, the latest issues are available, along with older ones.

I haven’t tried the app yet, but the desktop version is easy to use. And you can’t beat the price.

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