The Curse of the Diaeresis.

As I said here, Mary Norris of the New Yorker “has consistently irritated me with her stubborn insistence on every bit of peevery that has encrusted the magazine over the years,” but I admit I enjoyed her (now five years old) squib on the magazine’s famous diaeresis (“those two dots, often mistaken for an umlaut”). I particularly liked the last couple of paragraphs:

We do change our style from time to time. My predecessor (and the former keeper of the comma shaker) told me that she used to pester the style editor, Hobie Weekes, who had been at the magazine since 1928, to get rid of the diaeresis. She found it fussy. She said that once, in the elevator, he told her he was on the verge of changing that style and would be sending out a memo soon. And then he died.

This was in 1978. No one has had the nerve to raise the subject since.

(Sadly, we’ve had to let our subscription lapse after many years of enjoying it because they haven’t offered it at less than a hundred bucks, which we are not willing to spend for a magazine, no matter how good. WTF, New Yorker? Do you care only about the one-percenters now?)


  1. Charlotte Mandell says

    We subscribe to the New Yorker via Magazine Line:
    It used to be much less than $100, but now I see it’s gone up to $99. Still, better than full price.

  2. I think they should have a deal where 1 print subscription entitled you to, say, online access for 4. My 84-year-old mother hates computers and likes the print edition. I don’t want issues of the magazine stacking up. People like me are probably nervous of paying $99, but on the other hand we are likelier to spread the word about New Yorker stories – and presumably advertisers like to be seen by more people. (If the New Yorker is deterring LH from reading theirs is the loss.)

  3. now I see it’s gone up to $99

    By “$99” you mean $99.99, which is what I meant by “a hundred bucks.” I refuse to succumb to the cowardly, weaseling marketing technique of knocking a penny off the price and hoping people will round down. No pasarán!

  4. Trond Engen says

    There’s an American I know who got up in rage over that un-American affectation of charging round prices, not ,99.

  5. David Marjanović says

    At least some very long, very interesting New Yorker articles are online for free (on the official website), complete with the famously unrelated cartoons.

    that un-American affectation

    Huh. Where do they do that?

  6. Trond Engen says

    In those un-American affectated lands, I suppose…

    But at least here, they give a little more than an insignificant cent and scale the cheat so that it would end in e.g. 598,- or 5 980,- or 598 000,-

  7. It’s published 47 times a year, so that’s $2.15 an issue (rounding up). Cheaper than a single copy of the New York Times, which is now $2.50 (and $5.00 on Sundays).

  8. J.W. Brewer says

    If you are not willing to pay >$100/year for the New Yorker, you are signalling that you are definitely not the sort of person in whom the New Yorker’s advertisers are interested.

    (My own subscription has recently been allowed to lapse, but not because of price-point reasons but because the percentage of issues I had actually read versus allowed to pile up had for whatever combination of reasons been on a steady decline.)

  9. I read mine digitally through my local library. It’s free and once downloaded to my reader, it is there permanently. They use a service called Zinio. I’ve just checked and if you go directly through Zinio the price is under sixty dollars a year.

  10. The London Review of Books just sent me an offer for $29.95; I think the NYRB (which I’m currently subscribing to) is about the same. The New Yorker used to regularly send me offers in the $30-$40 range before my current subscription was up. I guess they’ve decided they’re too good for the likes of me now.

  11. Perhaps it’s because of your open and notorious anti-prescriptivism.

  12. vrai.cabecou says

    The NYer is not being snooty.

    When you don’t have ads, you have to make it up somewhere else.

  13. I enjoyed Summer Brennan’s article (link from my name) – took a vacation to try and read all of the guilt-inducing pile of back issues..

    Read them from the library sometimes, otherwise whatever they put online for free. This does induce a different guilt as I’d like to support them, but not to the tune of hundreds. I sent my father in South Africa a subscription for a number of years, oddly it was just a few dollars more than a US subscription.

  14. David Marjanović says

    Ah, that explains a few things.

    First, everything is online for free, but you’re only allowed to read 6 articles a month.


    “The New Yorker has a cult following,” says Samir Husni, director of the Magazine Innovation Center at the University of Mississippi. “The readers don’t care about price. They have an addiction to seeing it on their coffee table, week in and week out.”

    And third, tellingly:

    Corrections & Amplifications

    In November 2014, the New Yorker raised its cover price to $7.99 from $6.99. An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that the prior price had been $5.99.

  15. Giacomo Ponzetto says

    As of this writing, an annual subscription to the New Yorker is still available for $70 (print + digital). I can get that offer with a Google search for:

    “New Yorker” $69.99 a year (47 issues)

    or directly from

    I suppose this also means that if you call the subscription department and ask to renew at the $70 rate they’ll allow it, though they may not send you the free tote bag.

    If instead you have an Italian sense of morals and access to a .edu e-mail address, then you qualify as an educator and can subscribe for fifty bucks a year.

  16. “The New Yorker has a cult following,” says Samir Husni, director of the Magazine Innovation Center at the University of Mississippi. “The readers don’t care about price. They have an addiction to seeing it on their coffee table, week in and week out.”

    I refute Samir Husni thus!

  17. At one time the NYer was the cheapest magazine around. I remember when the newsstand price was $1.25 and everything else was $2.50. It was so cheap I would sometimes buy a copy on Monday even though I subscribed (the mail wouldn’t deliver it until Wednesday). I expect that what’s happened is that the NYer used to be able to charge advertisers multiples of what others could charge, and they can’t anymore. But it’s much more expensive to produce. They publish many, many more words, much better researched and written, than anyone else.
    I spend about two hours with the average NYer issue. I don’t think a dollar an hour is too much to pay.

  18. They publish many, many more words, much better researched and written, than anyone else.

    Than the NYRB? I don’t think so.

  19. If instead you have an Italian sense of morals

    “Never let your sense of morals prevent you from doing what is right.”

  20. On reading the passage to her, my wife asked if he was the preëminent authority on the matter.

  21. J.W. Brewer says

    I’m not that high on the NYRB myself, but I thought Our Hattic Host might enjoy the closing sentences of this piece (an appreciation of Grant McLennan written shortly after his death in ’06 by his bandmate Robert Forster): “As I walked to the car and got in, I wondered how many singer-songwriters or rock stars in the world got the New York Review of Books delivered on subscription. Not many, I thought. Maybe just one.” (McLennan and his mailbox were FWIW located in Brisbane, probably not one of the NYRB’s key markets.)

  22. I did, thanks!

  23. I read both the NYer and the NYRB. The NYRB, which is owned by a single wealthy person, publishes very, very good writing on a shoestring – it pays contributors (it has no writing staff) a few thousand dollars per article. (The recent reminiscences of Robert Silvers showed how this was done – reading between the lines, you can see how Silvers would flatter and bully and nag and guilt-trip potential contributors into writing for him. Writers who were resistant to his charm, presumably, were not asked to write reminiscences.) It does almost no original reportage, relying on the knowledge of its writers, who gain their information from their full-time jobs and the books under review.
    The NYer, which must turn a profit for its owners, has a well-paid, full-time reporting staff. It can send a reporter (Ben Taub) to follow the refugee trail from central Africa, across the Sahara, to Libya and across the Med to refugee camps in Greece. It’s expensive to fund extraordinary reportage like that, and yet the New Yorker has published several deeply reported stories on African and Syrian refugees over the past several months.

  24. Jemas Martin says

    The New Yorker is the best magazine ever.

  25. (The above comment was in moderation, presumably because it came with a spam URL. I deleted the URL and freed the comment. Take that, Jemas — if that is your real name!)

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