From the mailbag

This item appears on page 85 of the December 2009 issue.

From the mailbag — “The magazine is the best on the market, in my opinion. The others are comic books by comparison.”

“I read each issue of ITN cover to cover more than once and find the articles valuable and sometimes amusing. Thanks for having a publication such as this to keep us informed and help readers be better travelers.”

“You could charge twice as much and it would still be worth it.”

Thanks, folks.

What we see, here, as the big difference between this travel magazine and others is that ours is NOT written by a number of self-appointed travel “experts” dispensing their superior knowledge from the 40th floor of a Manhattan skyscraper. Instead, ours is a com- munity of avid, experienced travel- ers willing to SHARE.

Now, you may think I’m somewhat biased, but when I read each issue of ITN when it arrives from the printer, it seems warm to me. The other magazines seem cold.

What we’re most proud of is the ultracandor with which our readers write. Some of them really let ‘er rip! Have you ever seen printed in another magazine a letter critical of one of their own advertisers? Never happen! We do it.

Readers send us e-mails or letters about trips or situations that were “less than wonderful.” W e send a copy of any critical letter to the company mentioned to give them a fair opportunity to respond. Often, the response is, “If you print that letter, you will hear from our attorney.” Possibly, their lawyer tells them that in this country “opinion is protected.”

Oh, yes, we’ ve received letters that almost required asbestos gloves to hold. And we’ve heard through the grapevine that there are travel companies that won’ t advertise here because we “put down travel.”

Also, you’ve noticed that we

print letters in great detail. This is not a magazine for those whose attention span is about 125 words, maximum.

I’ll admit that, on rare occasions, we get letters from people saying that they prefer articles from “professional travel writers, not amateurs.” The word buffs among our readers know that the word “amateur” comes from “amor,” or “doing something for the love of it.” And we’ll take that every time. W e deeply relish our “amateurs” who are writing from the heart and not for a paycheck, by the word.

Speaking of “professional travel writers,” here’s what one wrote in a major newspaper in October: “I wandered for what seemed like days before finding my hotel. Success only came after scaling a couple of chain-link fences, asking directions three times, uttering several profanities and getting an ice cream cone to restore my spirit.”

What city was he talking about? Beijing? London? Mumbai? No, Monaco (one of my favorite places), which is LESS than one square mile in area!

Another difference that you’ll (almost) never see here — a mention that the grand poobah of Fenwick was seen at this hotel or that resort. W e aren’ t impressed by sightings of “celebrities” (most of whom you wouldn’ t want to know).

Humorously, many in the travel industry think that because ITN is on newsprint and has no color pictures, we have a lesser caliber of reader than the (as they phrase it) “up-market” publications.

In reality (thanks to our dear readers), the percentage of subscribers who are college graduates is higher among ITN readers than it is for the super-ritzy Departures or even The Economist.

I enjoy being in the company of readers who value substance over form.