Diary: Speaker's Corner

Inflation. It's a terrible thing. Just ask the Germans during the Weimar Republic - they had to take their money home in wheelbarrows. And that's before you get to the corrosive effect of inflation on society.

Today, inflation isn't just a money thing - it's magazines too. Not prices, but coverlines, or, more specifically, list-type features as sold via coverlines. Take these few examples currently on the shelves:

- 100 TRIED-AND-TESTED TACTICS FOR SEDUCTION (Cosmopolitan)

- 420 WAYS TO MAKE CHRISTMAS SIMPLE (Prima)

- 538 SECRETS FOR A MAGIC XMAS (Eve)

- 673 PRETTY DAMN-GLAM PARTY LOOKS (Cosmopolitan again)

- 679 EASY FESTIVE TOUCHES FOR YOUR HOME (Ideal Home)

- 743 FIGURE-FLATTERING LOOKS (What to Wear)

- 1,001 AWESOME ROCK FACTS (NME)

Now, I'm as partial as the next woman or man to a good list, but what happened to the good old days when lists were five or ten or 15 or 100 things? You know, when they used to turn up in neatly sorted packages with manageable, divisible numbers. Or a nicely turned A to Z. That's only 26 things. And come on - in a list of 647 SCREAMINGLY BRILLIANT PLACES TO VISIT BEFORE YOU DIE (OK, I made that one up), just how good is number 623 going to be?

So here's 5 REASONS WHY MAGAZINE LISTS NEED TO BE SHORT.

1. They're intimidating. Who really needs 100 seduction tips. Won't ten do? Anyway, if one works, you can always use it again.

2. They make you feel inadequate.

3. Like Gresham's Law, bad lists drive out good ones. What editor will have the nerve to put a list of 50 decent things on their front cover if they know their competitor will have a list of 500?

4. They're crap.

5. Er, that's it.

- Got an axe to grind? E-mail us at campaign@haynet.com.

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