09 November 2009

Freeding Material

Baker Street is a good place to be at about eight in the morning if you like getting free stuff. On the other hand, it's a terrible place to be if you want to walk down the street and into the Tube station, relatively unimpeded by the gauntlet of free-vendors (frendors? Freendors? Dator?) handing out a wide variety of, well, stuff. I like free things, for the most part, although I dislike people getting in the way of my perfectly timed commute even more.

Most mornings a copy of Metro, London's free morning newspaper entertains me for my seven-minute journey to the train station; I certainly wouldn't pay for the service but it gives me the odd chuckle and/or restaurant listing to check out (if I haven't already read the latest Time Out, which is where most of these listings come from). Some days, there are free fashion magazines and sport magazines too-not to mention free deodorant, chocolate, tissues (courtesy of the NHS) and even branded brollies one torrentially rainy week. You can't always tell in advance whether the sample is worth diverting your route for or not until it's too late, unfortunately.

This morning, they were giving out copies of The Economist. Or so I thought. Actually, they turned out to be sample copies and so were only 25 pages long. This is still not bad for free and some of the articles were quite interesting but that isn't the point. I know I like The Economist but I don't like it enough to pay £102 per year for an annual subscription (this is for the print edition; online only is cheaper but if I'm paying that much, I would need to be able to take the magazine with me in lieu of a book while out and about rather than sentence myself to another hour in front of my laptop). I buy a copy maybe two or three times a year when either there is a really interesting article or feature that catches my attention or I'm in hospital/at an airport/at King's Cross having forgotten to bring my book and I need to buy a magazine. The free sample was a nice idea but it hasn't come any closer to persuading me to subscribe--Private Eye is my only magazine subscription and I intend to keep it that way.

That being said, I'm perfectly happy for publishers and chocolate makers and assorted FMCG manufacturers to ply me with their wares in the hope they will find a convert--as long as the samples are worth my crossing the street for, of course.

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