Have You Read one of Those “Bookazines” That Seem to be so Popular?

By Joe Darby


As an avid reader, I’m glad to see that publishers are trying innovative ways to get people to read something that doesn’t come from an electronic device.

I’m referring to what I call “bookazines” those half books and half magazines that you see all over the magazine shelves in drug stores and super markets. They cover a wide variety of topics and while they’re a little pricey, they can be fun and informative. They’re also just full of pictures.

They’ve been on the stands for a few years now and are obviously part of a trend that is successful for their publishers. Otherwise, they would be long gone by now, yet every week you see a few new ones on the racks.

But before I talk more about the fad for bookazines, I recall another publishing trend that was very popular 30 to 40 years ago, (gosh, can it really be that long ago?) but is now gone the way of cassette tapes.

I’m talking about those multi-volume sets of books that Time-Life and others made so much money off of back in the 1970s and 80s. They’d usually advertise the sets in magazines, including a little card that you could send in to begin your subscription. You’d get a new book in the mail every month or two, usually costing about $19.95, plus handling and shipping, of course.

The sets were really quite nice. I had the history of airplanes, the history of ships, the Civil War, World War II and probably another set or two that I don’t immediately recall. They were very well written, with good scholarship and beautifully illustrated.

Unfortunately I no longer have any of those sets because they were just so bulky and took up so much of my book shelf space. So I gave them away to relatives who I thought would enjoy them. I do wish I had at least some of them still. But, while the sets sold well for a time, the trend tapered off and you see them no more.

Now to the bookazines. They’re a little pricey for what is actually a thick magazine, usually about $14. They can run up your bill at the drug store. For example, if you go in for a box of tissues and a bottle of aspirin, instead of paying a few bucks at the register, your bill will jump to over $20.

But they are fun. And by gosh they cover a wide field. Let me tell you about just some of the ones that I’ve bought. I have bookazines on Special Forces, Special Operations, Special Ops, War Machines, Raiders, History of the US Armed Forces and more. I have them on specific battles, Pearl Harbor, D-Day, the drive to victory in Europe, Vietnam, etc.

In miscellany I have bookazines on Thomas Jefferson, the Titanic, Ronald Reagan (two), Pirates, nature, space. You get the idea.

They also like to publish lots of religious bookazines — on Jesus, Mary, the Holy Land, the 12 Apostles, the Vatican, the Pope.

Royalty and the British Royal Family are also popular, as are bookazines on Hollywood, true crime, scandals, etc, etc.

I’d hate to add up what I’ve spent on all of them and I don’t buy as many as I used to. But if I see something really interesting, I’ll still pick it up. I just bought one on The Great Dictators a few days ago. Let’s see, I think I’ll go find out more about Mussolini now, if you’ll excuse me.