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Slick magazines have a subscriber problem with cornstarch

Brief by Central Staff

Modern times – January 2002 – Colorado Central Magazin

In light of recent developments, we found a reason to be glad that we’re not a slick magazine.

The non-slick paper that we print on is rather absorbent, so the ink dries quickly.

Slick stock isn’t so absorbent, so the ink takes longer to dry. They can run the printing press at a slower speed, but that means increased labor costs. The other option is to use something to absorb the excess ink — something like corn starch, which is cheap and works well.

Unfortunately, corn starch is a fine white powder, and people who find it in something they get in the mail are understandably fearful these days in light of the news about anthrax.

“Before we sell a magazine, we have to convince customers it’s not going to kill them,” said Thomas O. Ryder, a Reader’s Digest executive who was awakened by police at 7 a.m. one Saturday after a worried subscriber called 911.

Cornstarch isn’t an issue for us, but since Colorado Central is trimmed after it comes off the press, there could still be small amounts of harmless white powder on our pages — paper dust. Breathing a cloud of it probably isn’t good for you, but we’re talking about very small amounts.

The Postal Service has been issuing warnings about how to identify suspect letters and parcels. One reason for suspicion is an invalid return address.

But how do you tell whether an address is valid? The Postal Service maintains a web site that we use often to verify subscriber addresses and get the 9-digit Zip code that we need for our mailing category.

It’s at

Just type in the address, and you’ll know in a few seconds whether it’s valid or not.