When the book was slow in coming, I looked in the magazine for a subscription-department address and--lo and behold--discovered that last August and September the price was $18 for one year, $33 for two years and $45 for three years. Then, for two months (October and November), the price went to $9.95 for one year, $15.95 for two years and $19.95 for three years. In December, and in the current issue, the price has changed again--still $9.95 for one year and $15.95 for two years--but with the three-year subscription now at $29.95.
Did I luck out in August, 1984, or did I lose out in October, when I could have gotten three years for $19.95? The current $29.95 for three years must be an error because you can get two years for $15.95. What gives?--B.S.
A: Trying to make much sense out of any publication's "special" subscription price at any given time is a little bit like trying to fathom the mysteries surrounding the pricing of designer jeans. And for all of its literary prestige, The Atlantic is no exception--there's a bit of whim involved in all such pricing, even though the newsstand price ($2 in this case) tends to remain fairly static.