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They're giving it all away, folks. They're pleading, "Just, please, buy something that's not dot-com driven."Down the cereal aisle, a box of Lucky Charms comes with a full CD-ROM game of Clue, two boxes of corn flakes wins you an Olympic watch. Buy two packs of batteries at the drugstore and you get a free bag of Halloween candy (your choice!). But nowhere are the bonus prizes more in your face than on the magazine stand. If the computer mag doesn't give you a disc for 400 free hours of e-mail (or was that 400 minutes of roam-free dial-ups?), just walk away. If that music zine lacks a 60-minute soundtrack, turn on the tube, dude. All the beauty mags come stuffed with "extra" booklets of fashion tips, this month's Teen even includes a free bracelet of beads and stars.

Leave it to Nest to out-cool everyone on the giveaway packaging front. This year's winner of the General Excellence honor (under 100,000 circulation) from the National Magazine Awards delivers their fall issue in a zippered (black metal, of course) reusable, tri-colored plastic slipcover pouch. The 10-issues-old "quarterly of interiors" combines cheap chic (a long photo essay on custom plaid plastic slipcovers) and most-esteemed traditional room design. (Can you dig 20 pages of deep text and stuffy portraits from the Rothchilds at Waddesdon Manor?) In true DIY spirit, Nest shows you how to place your shower curtain on the floor, call it a "floor cloth" and be instantly trendy. Or you might cut a side off an old crock-pot or two, stack them up, and call them bookshelves. How about a 71/2-foot-long "baby" crib complete with a Huggies station for winding down after a rough day?

A typical Nest hero can be a part-time window dresser or cutting-edge architect. What's important is a passion for a space. In the latest issue, Chuck Palahniuk, the author of Fight Club, delivers a fantastic piece about life on board a Navy submarine, with 12 pages of full-color glossy photographs. And get this, one page later we're marveling at the chandelier in Louis Comfort Tiffany's 1882 Blue Room. Now that's an abrupt transition.

More by John Valentine


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