WORLD magazine and Popular Science aren't exactly the pair you expect to see regularly in the same mailbox.
But when Ken Taggart of Maryville, Tenn., got a sales pitch last month to subscribe to still a third magazine-Popular Mechanics-he responded promptly and positively to the offer. Then he sat down to write a fascinating letter explaining what would be happening to the whole mailbox full of magazines as they arrived.
The letter went to Noah Pietzyk, a third-grade student at Maryville Christian School. Noah was engaged in a magazine sales program that would help raise funds for his school.
"Thank you, Noah," wrote Mr. Taggart, "for the opportunity to purchase Popular Mechanics. I now receive World (which is the #1 best Christian magazine) and Popular Science.
"When I receive Popular Science each month, I immediately read it that day. I then put it in an international airmail envelope with the last four issues of World, which comes every week.
"I address the international airmail envelope to Mr. Ray Finsaas in Goroka, Papua New Guinea. Mr. Ray is a pilot with New Tribes Mission Aviation who flies a Bell Jet Ranger Helicopter that supplies Mr. Bill, Mrs. Kelley, Madison, and Sabra all of their supplies and mail at Itutang in the jungle.
"When Mr. Ray first gets the magazines, he opens the envelope and lets the NTMA pilots and mechanics read the magazines. After they all read them, he takes them by Jet Ranger to Itutang on his next scheduled supply flight. When Mr. Bill gets them, he reads them-along with Mrs. Kelley, Madison, and Sabra. When they finish, they give them to the Moores and the Zieglers to read.
"When the Moores and the Zieglers are finished reading them, they give them back to Mr. Bill. He puts them on the table he built under his jungle house for the Itutang tribal people. The tribal people sit under Mr. Bill and Mrs. Kelley's jungle house and look at the pictures in the magazines all day long. They cannot read them because they do not know how to read and write like you do, but they love to look at all the pictures of things they have never seen or dreamed about. While we were there last fall and I watched them look at the magazines I had sent over, I wondered what was going through their minds.
"Please pray for Mr. Bill, Mrs. Kelley, and the others that they will be able to share God's Word with the Inapang people.
"So you see, Noah, I will now be able to send Popular Mechanics along this same 'air mail trail.' I know the NTMA mechanics will also enjoy reading Popular Mechanics along with World and Popular Science. They have an important job to do to keep all the airplanes and their radio equipment running well.
"These magazines that I send Mr. Bill may well travel farther and be read by more people than any magazines in the world. You didn't just sell us an ordinary magazine subscription this week!"
Quite a story, don't you think? To which must be appended three quick comments:
First, that however much we might like to guarantee personal helicopter delivery of every subscriber's copy, we don't intend to do so! WORLD is, however, now being mailed from a different distribution center. Our new printer, Fry Communications of Mechanicsburg, Pa., has a reputation for expediting publications like WORLD-and we hope you already see some improvement in the weekly arrival of your own magazine.
Second, we do get questions from time to time about why WORLD isn't typically included on lists of magazines sold by schoolchildren like Noah. Such magazines tend to be large circulation titles whose main revenue (typically 65 percent and higher) comes from advertisers. WORLD gets just 30 percent of its income from advertisers, and simply can't discount subscriptions like others do.
Third, our sampling research suggests that an average of three people read each printed copy of WORLD. Our average print run has been about 140,000-suggesting that more than 400,000 people typically read each issue of WORLD. Just think what that figure would be if every reader were as industrious as Ken Taggart of Maryville, Tenn.!