Vince Aletti’s trick for keeping his magazine collection fresh

The writer and collector tells the New Yorker how he manages to stay engaged with his voluminous stacks of print
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Vince Aletti. Photograph by Steven Haas
Vince Aletti. Photograph by Steven Haas

Vince Aletti moved to New York in 1967, at a time when print media more or less reigned supreme. Magazines were still huge when Aletti moved into his current apartment building, in Manhattan, a little over a decade later. And today, in an age when many prefer screens to pages, Aletti is still buying between ten and twenty magazines a month, stacking them up neatly inside his modest home.

 

Vince Aletti's apartment Jason Schmidt for Document Journal. Copyright Jason Schmidt
Vince Aletti's apartment Jason Schmidt for Document Journal. Copyright Jason Schmidt

How many does he have? “Ten thousand, easily. Could be double that,” he tells The New Yorker’s Rachel Syme.

The interview, published to coincide with Aletti’s new book Issues: A History of Photography in Fashion Magazines, describes how, even in the early days, he was collecting not only new, but also old copies of Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar, among other titles, from two second-hand dealers, based near the Port Authority Bus Terminal in midtown Manhattan, which were, he tells the magazine, located on the “sleaziest blocks in the world.” He since went on to befriend magazine dealers, and today he tends to buy from Ebay.

 

Harper’s Bazaar March 1963 as reproduced in Issues
Harper’s Bazaar March 1963 as reproduced in Issues

Aletti was an influential music writer for many decades, and, a few years ago, he bequeathed his record collection to the Experience Music Project Museum in Seattle. However, he doubts whether he could find a similar home for his magazines.

 

Harper’s Bazaar November 1935 as reproduced in Issues
Harper’s Bazaar November 1935 as reproduced in Issues

So, while they’re around him, this amateur curator has found a way at least looking to keep things fresh. “Every week, he migrates a new issue to the top of the stacks near a small gray love seat in the living room,” writes Syme.

 

Issues by Vince Aletti

Want to see the best bits from Aletti’s famous collection, without having to free up too much shelf space yourself? Then buy a copy of Issues here.


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