Five years ago, a magazine cover touting “7 Tips for Landing a Jumbo Jet If You’re the Only One Left Conscious on the Plane (Really, You Can!)”  might have flown. Today it would have to be 77 tips, if not 777.

I’ve been tracking a creep at magazine racks. More accurately, less sensationally, I slump over my grocery cart at the checkout counter and scan the ballyhooed features, awed at the new normal in tip counts.

The marketing strategy is obvious. Consumers today need to be reassured we’re getting our money’s worth, right down to the number of tips we expect a magazine to deliver. A paltry six home-improvement or skin-care tips? Do we look like chumps?

Operating on tip steroids, the April issue of Men’s Health promises the “1,078 Best Health, Fashion, Nutrition & Sex Tips — Ever!” I especially like the “Ever!” from a magazine that in March offered 1,742 Ways to Get Better at Everything.” In other words, guys, don’t embarrass yourselves by continuing to use tips that are so last month.

Also at a magazine rack near you: “203 Cute Outfit Ideas for Spring” and “164 Steals Under $50 (InStyle); “65 Ways to Go Green and Save Green” (Good Housekeeping); “358 Recipes, Tips & Tricks” (Every Day with Rachael Ray); “450+ Dresses, Shoes and Bags at Every Price” (Elle); and “586+ Style Ideas” (Inside Weddings).

What’s with the plus signs? Did somebody lose count on deadline and say screw it? And I’m intrigued by the use of non-round numbers. Why did Harper’s Bazaar stop at “549 New Fashion Ideas”? They couldn’t come up with one more idea to make it an even 550? It’s that scientific?

This surge in tip numbers runs the gamut of magazines. The April issue of PC World offers “112 Apps and Services You Shouldn’t Live Without.” Now that’s putting it to us. Not to be left out, Quilter’s Home weighs in with “55 Rad Blogs.” (I’ll leave to your imagination what a rad blog for quilters might be.)

Discover magazine has Albert Einstein as its cover boy with the feature “3 Radical Theories Challenge His Ideas of Space and Time.” Okay, maybe 3 doesn’t seem like a big number, but look at it this way: how many could you come up with? It’s all relative.

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